VANCOUVER, Wash. - A Vancouver cheerleading academy owner is accused in court documents of having sex multiple times with a 17-year-old girl he was supposed to be coaching.
Neil Finger, the 28-year-old owner of Vancouver Cheer Academy on Northeast Minnehaha Street, was arrested Tuesday and lodged in the Clark County jail on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.
On Wednesday, he appeared in court, where a judge ordered him to stay away from minors and his business.
Court documents allege that Finger had sex with the teen at least three times and told her not to say anything because he would get into trouble. Police said the girl's mother confronted him after reading about the relationship in her daughter's diary.
The 17-year-old told investigators the relationship began in May and the sexual contact allegedly continued until this month, court documents allege.
Finger declined to talk to KATU News about the charges on Wednesday. But one of his supporters, Shelley Lawrence, said the charges against him are outrageous.
"It's just heartbreaking, and I can't believe this," said Lawrence, whose 13-year-old daughter attends his cheer academy.
She said it must be a misunderstanding and that Finger does not deserve this.
Finger told the judge he could not afford his own attorney and that friends posted his $10,000 bail.
In a strange twist, Finger talked to KATU News about four months ago when a friend of his, Beaverton-Tigard area cheerleading coach David Chatman, was arrested for alleged sexual contact with a 16-year-old. Finger said then that he hoped parents and other cheerleaders would continue to have faith in coaches who work hard to earn their trust.
Those statements came the same month that he is alleged to have started a relationshp with the 17-year-old.
There is also an unrelated civil case pending against Finger. A gymnastics equipment company is suing him for $16,000 in unpaid bills. Finger was arrested last week for skipping a court appearance in that case.
He'll be back in court on the sexual misconduct charges on Oct. 9.