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DENVER — Cheerleading coaches and school administrators in a Colorado district have been placed on leave, and Denver police are investigating amid series of videos showing high school cheerleaders screaming in pain while being pushed into splits during practice.
KUSA-TV reports the videos show eight cheerleaders at Denver's East High School repeatedly being pushed into splits while their arms are held up by teammates during the first week of cheer camp in June.
In one video, a girl repeatedly asks her coach to "please stop."
The station says the videos were shot on the phones of two team members and were sent anonymously to the station.
Denver Public Schools superintendent Tom Boasberg calls the videos "extremely distressing."
He says the school's principal and an assistant principal, the cheer coach and his assistant and a district lawyer have been placed on leave during the investigation.
In a joint statement, Jim Lord, the executive director of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, and Karen Lew Feirman, the director of safety for USA Cheer, said they did "not condone the coach's actions, and rejects them to the fullest extent. Stretching should never be taken to the level of causing pain."
The statement continued, "Of even more concern is failure to act when it is clear that a cheerleader is in extreme pain and begging to stop."