Cheer Coach Sentenced for Taking Sexually Explicit Photos of Underage Students

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A Federal Way man was sentenced to prison on Friday for a pair of sexual offenses, based on sexually explicit photos he took of teenagers from a local cheerleading team.

Jeffrey Mendoza, 36, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes and second-degree assault with intent to commit sexual exploitation of a minor.

Mendoza was sentenced to six months in prison. He must also pay a $600 fine and register as a sex offender.

"This cheer coach exploited his position of trust and leadership to cause long-lasting harm to the children in his care," Special Agent in Charge Donald M. Voiret of the FBI's Seattle Field Office said in a press release.

In 2018, authorities with the Washington State Patrol's Missing and Exploited Children Task Force and the FBl's South Sound Child Exploitation Task Force, looked in to allegations against Mendoza after several of his cheer students from Celebrity Cheer in Auburn spoke to law enforcement.

The cheer students told law enforcement that Mendoza had lured them to Airbnb rental properties in the Puget Sound area with the promise of taking modeling photos. While at the properties, Mendoza "convinced them to either remove their clothing or wear sheer lingerie and pose in a sexually explicit manner while he photographed them," according to student testimonies.

The students said they complied because they were afraid of Mendoza's emotional outbursts and his threats of public humiliation if they did not.

"Due to the hard work of our team at FBI Seattle, Washington State Patrol, and the King County Prosecuting Attorney, this predator will be held accountable for his actions and be identified as a sex offender," Voiret said.

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