DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Some families are disappointed after the Denver District Attorney declined to file charges against the former East High coach who pushed cheerleaders down into painful splits.
District Attorney Beth McCann announced her decision not to file charges on Saturday.
Ally Wakefield, the mother of an injured East High Cheerleader provided a statement late Sunday:
“The Wakefield and Nickolay families continue to focus on their daughters’ physical and emotional healing. While the families disagree with the decision of the Denver District Attorney’s Office, they appreciate the kindness and genuine concern demonstrated by DA Beth McCann through this difficult process. The families are determined to ensure no other student athletes are subjected to any form of abuse at the hands of adults entrusted with their care.”
CBS4’s Melissa Garcia spoke with McCann in an interview Monday about the reasons behind the decision.
McCann said her decision in the case was one of the most difficult calls that she has ever had to make. While she does not agree with the use of the power-stretching technique used by former coach Ozell Williams, she said the evidence did not warrant child abuse charges. In criminal court, prosecutors would have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When McCann’s team reviewed the case, they determined the evidence did not meet that standard.
“Simply by not filing criminal charges, is in no way saying that I didn’t believe them or that what happened to them wasn’t horrible,” McCann said.
Part of McCann’s decision, she said, hinged on her discovery that the power-stretching technique was not unique to coach Ozell Williams.
“This is a technique that is used by coaches,” McCann said. “I’m hopeful that those involved in the cheerleading world will take this to heart and be much more vigilant about supervising cheerleading coaches. And also, hopefully, making sure that this technique is never used again.”