The coach who forced cheerleaders to do splits will not be charged
I don't know about you, but pushing down on a high school girl's legs, forcing her into a split that tears muscle, sounds like intense child abuse. Ally Wakefield, a 13-year-old-girl from Denver, Colorado, experienced just that in August 2017. East High School was conducting a summer cheerleading camp, where Ally was practicing her splits. A coach at the camp, Ozell Williams, was filmed pressing so hard on Ally's legs that she cried out in pain, begging him to stop.
"No, no, no, no, no! I can't!" she cried. "Please stop. Please stop. Please stop."
Now, it has been revealed that The Denver District Attorney’s Office has neglected to file charges against Coach Williams. The original video can be seen here:
"It was tearing my ligament and my muscle at the same time,” said Ally Wakefield at the time. "He was pushing down on the back of my right leg. He was pushing like with his other knee on my back to try to keep my posture straight."
Ally's mother sent footage of the incident and this letter to East High's administration:
“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. This is how Ally injured her leg. My husband and I would like to know what the administration is going to do about my daughter’s injury and how it happened.”
Ozell was fired from the school the month of the incident, as the administration agreed that he went too far.
At the time, the school said of the incident:
"I want to reiterate in no uncertain terms our commitment to the safety of our students. We absolutely prohibit any practices that place our students’ physical and mental health in jeopardy. We do not and will not allow any situation in which a student is forced to perform an activity or exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop.
"While this investigation is ongoing, we are entirely focused on ensuring our students and staff at East are receiving the supports they need. A senior leader at the school, Jason Maclin, will serve as interim principal during this time and we are providing additional counseling for our students and families.
"With regards to certain videos, I cannot state strongly enough – as the superintendent of the school district and 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."
In addition, police announced that they had started their investigation. Though, now it has concluded without finding of criminal fault.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann released a statement on the decision not to file charges. She concluded that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Ozell for a crime, though she was glad that he was fired from the school:
"The individual involved should not be a coach in high school sports and he no longer is... The message should be clear that this type of technique has no place in high school cheerleading coaching. The bad judgment of the coach, however, does not constitute a prosecutable crime.”
What do you think? The most important thing is that he no longer works at the school. Should he really be charged as well? Or would assault charges be a step too far?