Police tried to stop the spread of pornographic video and photos of two U.S. high school girls, images that were transmitted by cell phone to dozens of the girls' classmates and then to the wider world.
At least 40 Parkland High School students believed to have received the images must show their phones to police by Tuesday to ensure the images have been erased, or they could be prosecuted in juvenile court for possession of child pornography, District Attorney James B. Martin said Thursday.
But students at the Pennsylvania school said the distribution was far more widespread.
"Most people got it and kept passing it along for fun to everyone in their phonebook," said Jon Gabriel, 16, a junior who said he received and deleted the images.
One of the girls in the images is shown engaging in a sex act with an unidentified boy, Martin said. The other girl took and transmitted a photo of her bare breasts, he said.
Martin said he was not certain if the girl shown having sex had known she was being photographed. As for the other student, "she's a victim and she's not a victim," he said.
"Our thrust has been to get the kids to come forward and we've indicated we will not charge them for possessing the images," Martin told The Associated Press. "I'm not sure what we're going to do with the participants at this point."
Students interviewed at the school Thursday said the pictures were circulated about two months ago, and that the images have been distributed well beyond the high school and even to people outside the state — including to Harvard University.
"The school isn't going to get everybody because it is everybody. I don't know anybody who didn't get the pictures," said Samantha Smith, a 16-year-old junior who said she deleted the images when she got them.
On the social networking site Facebook, one student started a group called, "Parkland. ... Where Pornstars Are Born."
Authorities began investigating about two weeks ago after some students told school administrators, Martin said.
Officials do not believe the pictures were taken on school property.
Phone messages left Thursday for the principal and superintendent were not returned, and a reporter was turned away from both the high school and the district office.