HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)–A former Henrico cheerleading coach accused of sexually abusing five girls over the span of a decade now stands trial.
Maurice “Moe” Jerralds, also a former gymnastic coach at USA Gym from 1999-2010, is charged with 13 counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor.
Jerralds waived his right to a jury trial, so a judge will decide the verdict and possible sentence.
Jerralds appeared in Henrico County Circuit Court on Tuesday wearing a blue pin-striped suit. He remained stoic throughout the day, only briefly talking or passing notes to his two attorneys.
Commonwealth’s attorneys Amy Turner and Nancy Oglesby called three of the five victims to the stand on Tuesday, as well as parents and friends of the victims.
The first victim alleged that Jerralds began molesting her when she was 11-years-old and her parents were going through a divorce. She’s now 23 years of age. She says she confided in Jerrralds as a “father figure” and would often talk to him on the phone and hang out socially.
But soon after, she claimed Jerralds began to request that she “touch herself” and expose her genitals. She said Jerralds called her private parts “his area” and would become cold and stand-offish if she refused his requests. She said the abuse would occur at the gym, in his car, at the movies, and in their homes.
The victim claimed Jerralds fondled her several times on a trip to Baltimore for a competition and performed oral sex on her on another occasion in his apartment on her 14th birthday.
She alleged she left the gym in high school after the abuse became too overwhelming.
When cross-examined by the defense, the victim testified she didn’t speak out sooner because she loved and respected Jerralds. She testified “I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was 20. I just felt special for some reason.”
The second victim allegef her abuse began when she was 11-years-old and lasted until she was 13. She testified that Jerralds asked repeatedly to check parts of her body to make sure she was “healthy.”
She testified that Jerralds would pull her pants to the side and expose her vagina during several private coaching sections. She also said Jerralds would fondle her, even though she would imply that she was uncomfortable.
The victim also testified that she lied to her father in 2001 about being inappropriately touched by Jerralds. At the time, Jerralds was on trial in Chesterfield County because of allegations involving misconduct with another cheerleader. Jerralds was acquitted of those charges.
The second victim claims she suppressed her memory for years, and didn’t realize the extent of her emotional injuries until college, when she enrolled in a sociology class at Virginia Commonwealth University.
A third victim testified that Jerralds began abusing her when she was eight-years-old. She claimed Jerralds would encourage her to sit on his lap while he touched her breasts on several occasions. She says Jerralds would also straddle her while she was stretching on her back.
She said Jerralds became jealous when the girls talked about their boyfriends, and would give them the “cold shoulder.”
On one occasion, she claimed Jerralds put his hand down her pants while attending a movie, and patted her buttocks.
The victims’ parents also testified that they trusted and respected Jerralds. They said he was treated like family, and would often attend birthday parties, dinners and other social events at their homes.
They testified that they were not aware that their children were being abused until 2011, after the first victim came forward.
Jerralds was fired from USA Gym in March of 2010, after a parent discovered inappropriate text messages and emails between her daughter and Jerralds.
Tim Morgan, the owner of USA Gym, said he was unaware of any sexual misconduct prior to being alerted by the parent.
However, Morgan said he did feel uncomfortable watching the girls “hang all over” Jerralds. Morgan says he also warned Jerralds not to socialize with the girls outside the gym.
All three victims testified that they decided to speak out after discovering Jerralds had been hired at a Maryland gym. One victim says she texted the others and said, “There’s going to be a whole new group of us if we don’t stop him.”
The defense points out, however, that there’s some catalyst that prompted all the victims to come out at once. The defense eludes that the girls became jelous of the attention Jerralds was giving another girl.
Two other victims, including one who alleged she had sexual intercourse with Jerralds, are expected to testify Wednesday.