A high school cheer coach has been sacked after footage emerged of him making a 13-year-old perform the splits while she screamed for him to stop.
Cheerleader Ally Wakefield told how East High coach, Ozell Williams, tore one of her muscles and one of her ligaments during the ‘exercise’ – known as ‘breaking’.
Coach Williams has now been removed from his position, saying the video was ‘taken out of context’.
However, according to 9news, Williams was fired from another school – Boulder High – for the same reason, allegedly telling girls he would ‘punch them in the face’ if they failed to perform perfectly.
In the shocking clip, lasting just under half a minute, Williams can be seen pushing on Ally’s back while three of her teammates hold her down.
KUSA, the channel who were sent the footage, revealed they have been sent a total of eight videos from cheerleaders, repeatedly being pushed into splits – all filmed during the first week of cheer camp in June.
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When the Denver Post contacted Williams he said:
You can definitely say that what was in the video could be seen in a different light.
I would love to tell my story, but I can’t say anything else at this time.
Since the video’s release, East High have placed four members of their staff on administrative leave – including the principal and assistant principal – while police investigations, as well as their own, take place.
Since the incident, Ally has spoken out about her ordeal, telling KUSA:
It was tearing my ligament and my muscle at the same time.
He was pushing down on the back of my right leg. He was pushing like with his other knee on my back to try to keep my posture straight.
Ally’s mom, Kirsten Wakefield, said she informed the assistant principal via email about the injuries Ally sustained, writing:
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
Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools superintendent called the videos ‘extremely distressing.’
In a statement, Boasberg said:
We absolutely prohibit any practices that place our students’ physical and mental health in jeopardy
We do not and will not allow any situation in which a student is forced to perform an activity or exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop.
Denver police officers are investigating the incident as a case of child abuse, but the department cannot release any other information while the case is pending.