Denver 9 News was sent a series of horrifying videos depicting cheerleaders from Denver East High School forcing fellow student squad members into splits.
The video is difficult to watch and has been edited by 9 News:
The man in the video forcing the students down with their shoulders is the cheerleading coach, Ozell Williams. Parents of the cheerleading squad have allegedly complained previously about Williams’ potentially abusive routines. The incident occurred this past June, with the district had received the video on June 15th. An “internal investigation” did not begin until August 23rd, over two months after the video was received. These facts have led to the district suspending multiple school district employees.
According to a message posted on Denver East High School’s website, East High School Principal Andy Mendelsberg, Assistant Principal Lisa Porter, Cheer Coach Ozell Williams, Assistant Cheer Coach Mariah Cladis and DPS Deputy General Counsel Michael Hickman have all been placed on leave pending an investigation by Denver PD.
When asked for comment, Coach Williams told 9 News that he had “learned that technique while growing up” in “Chicago and New Orleans.”
Denver’s Fox 31 News dug into Coach Williams’ checkered past, reporting that he was fired from Colorado Eclipse Dance School in Greeley, Colorado after only working there a month. The gym’s owner, Demi Kupfner, did clarify that his termination was due to professional differences and not in regards to student safety. However, when asked if she was surprised to see that Williams was the coach overseeing the abuse practice method at East High School, she simply stated “No.”
Parents should be advised to talk to their children and their coaches to ensure that their kids are safely involved in any extracurricular activity. It’s easy to turn a blind eye, say “Well when we were kids” and be done with it. In that sense, this could all end up being another case of people finally finding out how the metaphorical sausage is made and we are just simply being overly sensitive.
But how many of you would let your kids go through that?