PLANTATION (CBSMiami) – It’s news that’s turned the tight-knit south Florida cheerleading community upside down.
“It was honestly disgust and, like, shock,” said Nikki Hearn, whose family owns 5 Star Athletics, a Broward cheerleading gym.
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“I don’t even know if I can put it into words. To me it’s just absolutely horrifying, disgusting,” added sister Jordan Hearn, a cheer coach at 5 Star Athletics.
Horrifying and disgusting that fellow cheer coach — Raul Albites — from the now closed Broward Elite All Stars gym sits in jail, accused of inappropriate behavior with a 14-year-old girl.
“I can’t even imagine how she felt. I have a son and can’t imagine him being put in a situation like that,” added Jordan.
The feds say the 39-year old coach frequently texted and FaceTimed with his teen victim, saying things like, “I want to be your BF… I see you as my girl…”
Albites also coached Nikki Hearn. She tells CBS4 News she always felt something was just not right with him.
“There was just something about him that , mm-mm, don’t like this man, not for me,” she said.
Nikki disliked Albites so much that she decided to quit cheer altogether.
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“You don’t want to believe someone that you know can just hurt somebody that way, especially a child.”
A child who was too scared to come forward for two years. The victim only finally admitting what happened after her mother found racy text messages on her daughter’s phone.
“I’m sure there are more kids out there who were victims to him,” said Nikki.
Jordan added, “Absolutely do worry she may not be the only one. He was around hundreds of kids, maybe more.”
It’s why 5 Star Athletics takes the safety and security of their students so seriously.
“We have cameras, in those two corners and in the offices as well,” Nikki pointed out.
“A background check is required and then we also do a full safe sport course.”
“If something did happen to you, there are people out there who will help you,” Nikki reminded potential other victims.
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Albites is charged federally with “enticement of a minor”. If convicted he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum of life in prison.