Counselor meets with ZiLo Cheer & Dance members

LH Coach Sexual Assault Meeting
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 10:49 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Bay County community is working to pick up the pieces after a traumatic experience.

Monday evening members and parents of ZiLo Cheer and Dance Studio gathered at their practicing grounds located at 311 North Tyndall Parkway to discuss how the company can move forward following the arrest of former cheer coach Auzoiya “Johnea” Williams.

According to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the 34-year-old sexually abused two of her cheer students while they were minors.

Williams has since posted bail, but now her former team is left to sort through unresolved emotions.

Licensed Mental Health Counselors Beverly Brown led the tough conversation.

“First of all we need to make sure that we’re supporting each other. One of the biggest things that happens when we have this type of event is the need to be heard and the need to be felt,” said Brown. “Today we’re going to spend some time talking about vicarious trauma, we’re going to talk about how we can heal and support each other and we’re going to talk a little bit about what to do if you think you have a child or family member that needs more help.”

Devonte Jordan is the ZiLo Cheer and Dance Studio president. He says dancing is an outlet for the students and he is committed to ensuring they have the opportunity to do what they love most.

“They’re down and depressed. This is what they know. They are here four to five sometimes six times a week. It’s like a job. Once you get used to doing something you expect to do it, “Jordan said. “So tonight, we plan to see who as far as parents, and students, is willing to give us that opportunity to give us that chance to move forward hopefully we get a nice turnout that kind of will determine how we move forward and who is willing to move forward. Who is willing to trust us with their kids going forward so it kind of just depends on the outcome of tonight so we’ll see.

Corporal Amy Burnette is with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. She says it’s important for victims to know it is ok to come forward.

“It’s very important that if there are any other children victims or any victims at all whether they be grown now or they were children at the time I want to make sure that the community knows and the children knows that there are safe places to talk about things, that it is ok if you’re not ok, and that the Bay County Sheriff’s Office is here to help in any sort of way to make sure that our children are safe in the community.”

If you’d like to speak with someone at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office call 850-747-4700.