East High School cheerleading forced splits video investigation will not result in criminal charges

In August, a video surfaced of an East High cheerleader crying out in pain as former cheerleading coach Ozell Williams held her in a forced splits position.

East High School. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

denver; colorado; high school; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
East High School. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; high school; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
East High School. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Denver District Attorney’s Office will not file criminal charges after an investigation into an East High School cheerleading team’s practice that resulted in injury to one cheerleader.

In August, a video surfaced of an East High cheerleader crying out in pain as former cheerleading coach Ozell Williams held her in a forced splits position.

Williams was allowed to continue coaching even after former East High principal Andy Mendeslberg and athletic director Lisa Porter were reportedly made aware of the video in June. Williams was eventually fired in August, but only after 9 News ran an excerpt of the video.

In September, Denver Public Schools superintendent Tom Boasberg announced that Mendeslberg would retire and Williams would resign after each “did not sufficiently address, share or report allegations of abuse in the contents of the videos.”

The Denver Police Department interviewed dozens of cheerleaders, parents and East High school personnel before determining that no criminal charges would be filed.

“The video of the incident involving the injured student that has been widely disseminated is painful to watch. However, after a very thorough and careful review of all of the evidence gathered in the investigation and the statements of many members of the cheerleading squad, I have concluded that the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges. In order to prove a charge of criminal behavior, the case must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” Denver district attorney Beth McCann said in a statement.

” … The individual involved should not be a coach in high school sports, and he no longer is. The principal and athletic director of the school have retired and resigned. 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.”

Subscribe to Denverite’s weekly sports newsletter here.

Christian Clark

Author: Christian Clark

Christian Clark covers sports. He's worked for outlets that include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Oklahoman, Columbia Missourian and Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine. He likes music and Mexican food. Lots and lots of Mexican food. Got questions? Tips? You can reach him at cclark@denverite.com.