Warning: Some viewers may find the video disturbing
Authorities in Denver, Colorado, launched an investigation after a distraught mother came forward with a disturbing footage showing her 13-year-old daughter’s cheerleading coach physically forcing the young girl to do splits despite her screams and cries of pain.
The video, posted above, shows East High School cheerleaders and recently hired Coach Ozell Williams forcefully holding down a student named Ally Wakefield as repeatedly cried, “No, no, no! I can't!" and begged them to stop. The cellphone video, taken during a summer cheer camp, is apparently just one of several videos, which show a total of eight students being forced to sit in the painful position.
In June, Ally’s mother Kirsten Wakefield notified the school's athletic director about the exercise.
“I have attached a video of the forced splits she and her other team members were forced to do at cheerleading camp and practices, unless they had a doctor's note. This is how Ally injured her leg,” she wrote in her email. “My husband and I would like to know what the administration is going to do about my daughter's injury and how it happened.”
However, the school did not take any action or contact the authorities. In fact, the cheer coach, assistant cheer coach, principal, assistant principal and the Denver Public School System's deputy general counsel were only placed on leave after NBC News affiliate KUSA released the clip.
“These girls are 13 to 17 and this is a crucial developmental stage for them. What kind of message we are sending if we tell them it is all right for an adult to abuse you while you're screaming ‘no stop,’ and not be able to do anything about it or speak up and not have any recourse,” Kirsten Wakefield told KDVR. “I am saddened and disheartened that it came to this point but at least something is happening. We just want to make sure this man doesn't injury or mentally hurt another child.”
Denver police investigators and medical examiners met with the affected cheerleaders to document any physical and mental trauma. The officials are treating the case as possible child abuse.
“The world is a scary place and the people you think you can trust, you can't always and that you just have to be conscious of who you are with and just trust your gut feeling,” said Ally, who is now under the care of a physical therapist.
Her fellow teammates remain unidentified.
Meanwhile, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg described the footage as "extremely distressing.”
“With regards to certain videos, I cannot state strongly enough — as the superintendent of the school district and the father of two high school-aged daughters — that the images and actions depicted are extremely distressing and absolutely contrary to our core values as a public school community,” he said in a statement. “We have a lot of interviews to conduct. We're still looking into it at this point in time.”
Coach Ozell Williams has not commented on the matter as of yet.
Schoolteachers and coaches are supposed to be a role model for their students, particularly for the young and impressionable ones. However, what the coaches at East High School have been doing to young girls is just unacceptable and horrifying.
Thumbnail/Banner: Pixabay, KeithJJ