Videos of Girls Forced to Do Splits at Cheer Camp Prompt Police Investigation

This was Mr. Williams’s first year coaching for East High School, according to KUSA, and this past week was the first of East High’s academic year. He is somewhat of a local celebrity, with thousands of Instagram followers, and is often seen tumbling across the field at both Denver Broncos and University of Colorado football games.

KUSA said that it had spoken to Mr. Williams by phone this week, and that he said he had learned the technique growing up, but declined to say more.

Mr. Williams did not respond to email messages sent on Thursday and could not be reached by phone.

On June 15, Kirstin Wakefield, the mother of the girl seen in the video, sent an email to the assistant principal, who was later put on leave, asking what the administration planned to do about the incidents, according to KUSA.

“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,” it read. “My husband and I would like to know what the administration is going to do about my daughter’s injury and how it happened.”

In an on-camera interview with KUSA, Ms. Wakefield said, “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 tissues in her body.”

Ms. Wakefield and her husband, Eric, did not respond to requests for comment. It was not clear how seriously their daughter was injured.

The Denver Board of Education addressed the matter in a statement on Thursday: “As the elected representatives for Denver Public Schools — and as the moms, dads and family members of D.P.S. students ourselves — we are deeply disturbed by the videos of cheer practices at East High School that came to our attention yesterday.”

“As the investigation continues,’’ it states, “our focus must be entirely on our students, families and educators.”

On Thursday, Mr. Boasberg, the superintendent, said that counselors at East High School had worked with the cheerleading team and other students to address concerns that morning.

He added: “We have sent notification to our athletic directors emphasizing that D.P.S. does not allow the use of ‘forced splits’ or any other activity that puts a student’s physical or mental health at risk, or in which a student is forced to perform an exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop.”

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