Shocking Video Shows High School Cheerleaders Being Forced Into Painful Splits by Coach: 'Please, Stop!'
A disturbing video featuring a 13-year-old Colorado cheerleader being forced into splits by her coach has prompted almost a half-dozen school officials to be placed on leave.
The video, reportedly filmed during Denver’s East High School cheer camp in June, shows incoming-freshman, Ally Wakefield, being held down into a splits position by fellow cheerleaders and her recently-hired coach, Ozell Williams. Wakefield excruciatingly yells “please, stop!” multiple times in the video as Williams pushes her down further by her shoulders.
“I just didn’t expect to have to do elevated splits, and be forced into it,” Ally told KUSA.
Ally’s mother, Kirsten Wakefield, sent an email on June 15 to the East High School athletic director regarding the incident. The email explained that a doctor who examined Ally said she experienced torn muscle tissue and damaged ligaments in her leg, as well as a pulled hamstring, as a result of being forced into the splits. The doctor advised Ally to see a physical therapist after the visit.
“This is a grown man pushing my 13-year old girl so hard against her will while she’s crying and screaming for him to stop, that he’s ripping tissue in her body,” Kirsten told KUSA. “I don’t understand why this man is still employed there.”
According to KUSA, Williams is known for doing backflips at Broncos and CU football games.
Denver police have launched an investigation.
In a statement provided to PEOPLE, the Denver Police Department says they received anonymous information that sparked their investigation. “On August 23, 2017, the Denver Police Department received anonymous information regarding the incidents involving a cheerleader coach at East High School, and Denver Police child abuse detectives immediately began an investigation,” the statement reads. “This is an open case, therefore no additional details or videos will be provided at this time.”
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg says in a statement to PEOPLE that they have placed six administrators on leave as the investigation commences: East Principal Andy Mendelsberg, East Assistant Principal Lisa Porter, East Cheer Coach Ozell Williams, East Assistant Cheer Coach Mariah Cladis and DPS Deputy General Counsel Michael Hickman.
“With regards to certain videos, 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,” Boasberg says in the statement.
Williams and Cladis have not yet responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.