DENVER (CBS4) – Cheerleading coaches and school administrators are on leave, and the police are investigating, after videos show high school cheerleaders screaming in pain while being pushed into splits during practice.
The videos show cheerleaders at Denver’s East High School forced into painful poses – held in place by their peers – while a coach pushed them down.
A mother whose daughter had just gotten on the cheerleading squad told CBS4’s Melissa Garica she was horrified at what the video showed her.
The mother of a 13-year-old freshman on the squad says the forced splits happened in June, and she’s spent months trying to resolve what she saw as abuser-victim behaviors on the squad without any resolution from administrators.
Denver Public Schools has now placed five administrators on leave for an investigation, including the high school’s principal, assistant principal, the cheer coach, an assistant cheer coach, and the school’s deputy general counsel.
Superintendent Tom Boasberg says DPS does not allow staff to force students into activities or exercises after they say stop.
The student’s mother says she suffered injuries due to what happened.
“There is so much trauma that it caused a blood vessel to burst on the front of her leg,” Kirsten Wakefield said. “She’s been in physical therapy. She’s still in physical therapy. The therapist has not cleared her yet because of the injuries she sustained.”
Wakefield says she has since pulled her daughter from the team.
The Denver Police Department says they became aware of this Wednesday, and child abuse detectives immediately began an investigation.
CBS4 has learned that Boulder High School, who hired Coach Williams as a consultant in 2015 and 2016, decided to no longer use his services, after staff saw him using the technique on their students.
CBS4 requests for comment from that coach have gone unanswered.