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Authorities in Colorado are investigating widespread sharing of hundreds of nude pictures at a high school, which reportedly involved half the football team and caused school officials to forfeit Friday’s game.
Officials in Cañon City say an unspecified "number of students" — both boys and girls — exchanged nude photos of themselves.
"This behavior is not representative of what we teach our kids," Cañon City Schools Superintendent George Welsh told NBC station KOAA.
The school district announced Wednesday in a statement that it learned that students "have engaged in behavior where they take and pass along pictures of themselves that expose private parts of their bodies or their undergarments."
The district said "a large number of our high school football players were implicated in this behavior." Officials decided to forfeit the high school's last football game of the season against Discovery Canyon.
"Because we can't guarantee that every kid we put out on the field would be clean of this circumstance, we would just rather not put a team out at all," Welsh told the station.
The district said it received anonymous tips about the alleged sexting on Monday and that it has turned the investigation over to the Cañon City Police Department. Police are looking at whether adults were involved, or if any of the photos were coerced, according to the district.
District officials are warning parents that students apparently used apps to hide the photos on their phones.
District Attorney Dan May told KOAA that having nude pictures of minors could be considered child pornography — regardless of whether the picture is of oneself or someone else. He said teens caught could also be put through a diversion program instead.
But he has also suggested he wouldn't necessarily pursue a felony criminal option unless the circumstances warrant.
Cañon City is a town of some 16,300 people, about 50 miles southwest of Colorado Springs.