(CBS) – A former member of the Jesse White Tumblers is under fire after video shows him forcing a cheerleader under his supervision to do the splits.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker talks with White, who is angry about the incident.
The video shows a 13-year-old cheerleader in Denver, Colo. screaming in pain, forced to split by her coach, Ozell Williams, a former member of the Jesse White Tumblers back in Chicago.
“I’m ashamed, I’m embarrassed,” White says.
His gymnastics program, which emphasizes character and education, has been around for nearly 60 years. It has graduated some 17,000 tumblers and has had few blemishes.
The video of Williams and the cheerleader was tough for White to watch.
“You cannot force a child to use their limbs if they’re in pain,” says White, the Illinois secretary of state.
Williams, who was a member of the Tumblers 15 years ago, went on to work for the Denver Broncos. He had just been hired as the cheerleading coach at the Denver high school. He was reportedly quoted as saying he’d learned this technique growing up.
White insists the Tumblers do not use splits, so Williams didn’t learn it from his organization.
The cheerleader seen in the video — she is okay — is not the only one complaining.
Denver police are now investigating, and Williams, among other school employees, was placed on leave.