An Ohio high school cheerleading coach has been accused of body shaming a student athlete, leading to the coach’s sudden resignation. Now the mother of the alleged victim thinks the coach’s departure may be an attempt to cover up the abuse.
As reported by Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO, among other local outlets, Shaker Heights (Ohio) High School cheerleader Laylonie Dowdell claims she was bullied by her coach, who made fun of her weight and forced her to wear parts of her uniform that were too small as a punishment.
“She stood up in front of the team and said ‘Laylonie, you’re always eating something. What are you putting in your mouth now?’ I was just so sad,” Dowdell told WOIO. “I did gain a few pounds, but you know it’s hard coming from your coach. You’re supposed to be there to help and mentor me.”
After a separate incident when Dowdell complained that her warm-up pants were tight, the advice provided was clearly and distinctly punitive rather than helpful.
“They told me to run up and down the street to the stop sign until my ride got there, and they laughed afterward,” said Dowdell.
Those events were deeply upsetting for Dowdell’s mother, Lakessa Taylor, who reported them to the Shaker Heights principal. Hours later, the coach who had allegedly bullied Dowdell resigned. And Taylor is insisting on getting to the bottom of it.
“I think the school is trying to cover this up,” Taylor told WOIO. “I have reason to believe this is not an isolated incident. My daughter has to have therapy and counseling because of something you did to her. I sent her to you unbroken, and you sent me back a broken child.”