The Denver Police Department is currently investigating an incident of alleged child abuse during which a group of teenage cheerleaders were physically forced to perform splits.
A disturbing video taken during cheerleading camp has been released and made its way on television. The video shows cheerleaders being roughly pushed down into the splits position by their coach, Ozell Williams. Teammates hold the arms of the girls in order for them to stay in the difficult position while their facial expressions are ones of pain.
One video shows 13-year-old Ally Wakefield, who injured her leg as a result of the incident. The teenager who is in obvious distress can be heard saying “please stop” during a class that was taking place as part of Denver East High School’s summer cheerleading camp.
The disturbing video can be seen below.
The footage which was secretly taken on camera phones, was sent to 9news. The incident took place in June, during the first week of the high school’s cheer camp. Three of the cheerleaders and their parents spoke about the ordeal they went through on national television.
“I did not expect to have to do elevated splits and be forced into it,” Ally Wakefield said. “He was pushing down on the back of my right leg; he was pushing with his other knee on my back, to try to keep my posture straight.”
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg released the following statement to 9news:
“I cannot state strongly enough – as the superintendent of the school district and as 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.”
The investigation is ongoing and the cheerleading coach, their assistant coach, the high school principal and assistant principal have all been placed on leave while the incident are being investigated.