The Colorado cheerleading coach who was fired after a disturbing video emerged of a high school student screaming in agony while doing splits is telling his side of the story, as other teens and their parents come to his defense.
Tears streamed down Ozell Williams' face as he opened up to Inside Edition.
“What they made me and portrayed me to be is not who I am,” Williams said.
The video, which went viral over the summer, showed 13-year-old high school student Ally Wakefield crying out as she does the splits, surrounded by the coach and other students at a cheerleading camp.
Some thought the coach was pushing the girl down but Williams tells Inside Edition's Les Trent that he was actually supporting the teen and making sure she was in the correct position.
“I'm actually telling them the proper way that they need to be stretching every single time,” he said.
Trent brought up that the girl was repeatedly yelling "stop!" in the video, but the coach claimed it wasn't out of distress, adding that she was saying "stop" as an indication to "not let the foot slide anymore."
“It means hold it for 15 seconds and that's when I’m counting,” Williams added.
The girl's mother says she suffered injuries to her ligaments and muscles. Their lawyer, Qusair Mohamedbhai, says girls "suffered immense emotional and physical pain under the watch of adults in positions of trust” and "the community should be outraged.”
But Williams gave Inside Edition a video that he says shows the same teenager doing cartwheels just two days later.
Williams says doing the splits during the cheerleader camp was voluntary and that the teenager had performed a similar routine right before the infamous video was shot.
“Most people don't understand the nuances," Trent told Williams. "What they see is something that looks barbaric."
The coach replied: “I apologize for their perception of the video without the proper context, because that's not what's going on."
After the video went viral, the school acted quickly and fired Williams. Police in Denver opened an investigation, but he has not been charged with a crime.
Although the district attorney declined to prosecute, he did slam Williams' techniques.
Now, cheerleaders are defending Williams, telling Inside Edition that he did nothing wrong.
Some of the girls, who were present in the gym on the day the notorious video was shot, spoke to Inside Edition about what happened.
“Stretching hurts, but it's supposed to," one cheerleader said. "It helps you get that split that you need.”
Another added: “It looks worse than it actually is.”
Some parents are also expressing support for Williams, saying they miss having him as a coach.
“I know that he would never do anything to hurt the girls,” one of the mothers said in his defense.
Although the girl's family has hired an attorney, no legal action has been filed against Williams.