Cheerleaders

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Wendy Brown: Photo Jeff Maysh.

Wendy Brown: Photo Jeff Maysh.

Why One Woman Pretended to Be a High-School Cheerleader

At 33, Wendy Brown stole her daughter’s name, grabbed a pair of pom-poms, lived a teenage dream—then she went to jail for it

Wendy Brown had always dreamed of becoming a cheerleader when she was in high school. Unfortunately the dream never came true and she found herself in a position where she was 33-years-old and raising her 15-year-old daughter. Since Brown resembled her daughter and had access to her daughter’s ID, she used her daughter’s credentials to enrol in a high school and join the cheerleading squad.

On September 2, 2008, a shy, blonde transfer student strolled into Ashwaubenon High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The petite sophomore wore a pink hoodie and carried a new school bag decorated with hearts, eager to start the new term. But just 16 days later, she was standing in court wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and shackles, charged with identity theft. There, prosecutors revealed that Wendy Brown was not really 15, but a 33-year-old mother of two—who had stolen her teenage daughter’s identity in an attempt to relive her own high school days. In her weeks as a student, Brown had taken classes with students half her age. She had tried out for the Ashwaubenon High School cheerleading squad and even attended a pool party thrown by the cheer coach.

Television crews surrounded the courthouse and besieged Brown’s family at their home in Nevada. “It was bad,” recalls her father, Joe. “Every show that’s on in the morning called. … Oprah didn’t call. She was the only one that didn’t call.”

A bespectacled Brown spoke like a teenager as she addressed the court: “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” she said softly. “I feel bad about it. And I regret it. Um, I always have … I am not a bad person. I just made a mistake.”

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