Champion baton twirler drugged, assaulted during nightmare trip: lawsuit
A teenaged, two-time national champion baton twirler claims she was drugged and sexually assaulted during a goodwill trip to Peru organized by the United States Twirling Association — which did nothing to prevent the alleged abuse, according to a lawsuit.
The association pledged to have private security on hand for the six athletes during the September 2019 trip to Lima, where the twirlers were supposed to visit foster homes and grade schools and participate in a parade, the victim, now 20, contended in her Brooklyn Federal Court lawsuit.
Instead, there was no security at all, and the athletes were left with their “creepy” host, a man named Jacobo who headed the local Lions Club, said the victim and her parents, who were not publicly identified in court papers.
Jacobo, who initiated contact with the association about traveling to Peru, allegedly became “enamored” with the then 17-year-old victim, and tried to get her alone throughout the trip, according to the lawsuit.
She told her mother Jacobo was acting “kinda creepy,” toward her, adding, “There have been multiple instances where he just wants to take me but I’ve refused,” according to the legal filing.
USTA chaperone Koralea Slagle allegedly stood by while the girls were kept out each night until 3 a.m. and regularly offered only booze — no water — to drink.
She even criticized the girls, sniping in an email to USTA President Karen Cammer that “they thought complaining to the states would make water appear,” the family claimed in court papers.
Slagle told the girls’ parents they were “having a good time,” and blamed the lack of water on “Peruvian culture.”
During one private event, Slagle allegedly drank champagne while Jacobo told the American twirlers to pose for photos with models and strangers. One of the athletes got drinks from the bar “because of extreme thirst,” according to the allegations.
That’s when the bartender served up a “special mojito” for the victim, who felt sick after consuming it. She contacted her family, who started making arrangements to get her home.
Hours later, Jacobo, who had a key to the victim’s hotel room, allegedly assaulted the ill and disoriented girl, she said in court papers. Slagle knew Jacobo had a room key, the victim charged.
The victim was taken to an emergency room when she landed in the US. She had lost 8% of her body weight, according to the legal claim.
“The events that took place in Peru should not have occurred, and it is sad that a lawsuit had to be filed for the victim’s voice to be heard,” said her lawyer, Andrew Goldwasser.
The family is suing the Nassau County-based USTA, Slagle and Cammer for unspecified damages. Slagle, of Kansas, and Cammer, of Long Island, did not return messages.
“The USTA takes seriously the welfare of its members. The USTA has not seen the complaint and does not comment on pending litigation,” spokesman Ken Frydman told The Post.