(CBS) – It’s been nearly three months since former Jesse White Tumbler Ozell Williams found himself at the center of a national firestorm, over a painful video showing cheerleaders screaming in pain while doing the splits.
In the video, which went viral, girls at his Colorado cheerleading camp seemingly were being forced to do the splits.
Williams says the cheerleaders knew the exercise could be painful.
The video cost Williams his job. He was under criminal investigation, and he was vilified for the tape — and the technique – by many critics, including White, the Illinois Secretary of State who for years has mentored young athletes through his tumblers program.
Williams said the video people saw lacked proper context. The splits exercise was optional, he says. If girls chose to try, he asked them to hold the splits for 30 seconds. He says he was stabilizing them, not pushing them down. It was not, he says, abuse.
“If they didn’t want to do it, all they had to do is say so,” he says. “No one said so.”
Williams, who set tumbling records himself, says he hopes to get another chance.
“I’ve been shut out of almost everything. I haven’t been able to get jobs. People that looked up to me look down on me now.”