A Colorado high school cheerleading coach was fired Friday after videos surfaced showing him pushing cheerleaders down in splits.
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg said Ozell Williams was dismissed from his job at East High School.
“I have watched all of the videos,” Boasberg said Friday. “As a superintendent, and as a father, and as an athlete, they are deeply disturbing. What happened was wrong.”
The videos show eight cheerleaders repeatedly being pushed into splits while their arms are held up by teammates. In one video, a girl appears to cry out in pain and repeatedly asks her coach to “please stop.”
The videos were broadcast on KUSA-TV this week. The TV station says the videos were shot on the phones of two team members and were sent anonymously to the station.
Police have opened a child abuse investigation, and four other district employees have been placed on leave: the East High School principal, an assistant principal, an assistant cheer coach and a district lawyer.
Boasberg said East High administrators saw at least one of the videos in June and should have told police about it then. He said the principal and an assistant principal met with Williams after seeing the video and believed they had addressed the issue.
Boasberg said he didn’t learn of the incident until this week. He said the district has hired a law firm to investigate how officials at the school and the district level handled the incident.
Williams couldn’t be located for comment but told The Denver Post on Thursday the videos were taken out of context.
“You can definitely say that what was in the video could be seen in a different light,” he told the newspaper. “I would love to tell my story, but I can’t say anything else at this time.”
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, Colleen Slevin