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Judge dismisses cheer mom's complaint
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Forsyth County News

The mother of a Forsyth County youth cheerleader failed to prove in court Tuesday why the head of her daughter’s cheer association should be arrested for simple battery.

Forsyth County Chief Magistrate Barbara Cole dismissed Michelle Rains' application for an arrest warrant against Nancy Cunningham, president of the Sharon Springs Cheerleading Association.

Rains, 39, was arrested Aug. 15 and charged with simple battery after she reportedly struck Cunningham in the chin during an altercation at a cheer clinic.

At the time of her arrest, Rains had already filed for a warrant to have Cunningham, 40, arrested for allegedly grabbing her arm during the Aug. 1 dispute near the gym at West Forsyth High School.

Tuesday, lawyers for Cunningham and Rains questioned witnesses during the hearing.

Mark Cunat, the attorney for Cunningham, called the case against his client “a matter of grandstanding” before the court and characterized it as “victimizing a victim.”

“My client did not make contact in an insulting or provoking nature,” he said. “She was just trying to calm her down.”

Rains’ attorney, John Valente, said the case against his client will go to state court. A date has not been set.

He declined to comment on Cole’s ruling and was not sure of his client's next move.

“Whatever happens to the Cunningham case, I don’t know," he said.

It appears the Aug. 1 dispute escalated after Cunningham told Rains at the clinic that it was too late to have her 9-year-old daughter moved to another squad.

Rains had tried to have her daughter reassigned prior to the clinic, but missed an e-mail from the association explaining how to do so.

She said she wanted her daughter to cheer for her 11-year-old son’s team, as she had the previous two years.

The association, however, changed its policy and wouldn’t allow it this year because Rains was not the cheer coach.
She said her daughter was placed on a squad with 7- and 8-year-olds instead of girls her age.

“My daughter was sad and alone at that clinic,” Rains said.

Rains said Cunningham grabbed her arm in an aggressive manner when the discussion got heated.

She denied hitting Cunningham, but said she did reach over another cheer coach to push Cunningham’s chin back with three of her fingers.

Rains also denied reports that she then taunted Cunningham.

“In (Cunningham’s) disbelief I said, ‘Don’t act like you just got punched, you’ll know if I connect,’” said Rains, adding that she could barely reach Cunningham.

Cunningham was not called to the stand during the hearing, which also drew several parents.

Heidi Augustine, the association’s vice president, testified that Cunningham touched Rains’ hand in an effort to lead her somewhere away from the more than 200 girls at the clinic.

“She was trying to calm down what was becoming a very hostile situation quickly,” Augustine said.

Augustine also said that Rains started yelling and then screaming once she was told she could not move her daughter to another squad. She said she and another woman attempted to block Rains from the gym as Cunningham went to get Rains’ daughter.

“She reached over my shoulder and slapped Nancy in the face,” Augustine said.