The Colorado sexting scandal involving hundreds of students in the Cañon City School District has left parents in outrage, and police say some students could face felony charges. A report from NBC News states that authorities in Colorado have launched an investigation into the sex scandal, which reportedly involved half the football team and caused school officials to forfeit Friday’s game.
“A tip led to a couple more names, an interview led to a couple more. At one point it was, ‘Well, everybody is doing this,'” Cañon City principal Bret Meuli told the local news station. “Of course, we didn’t believe them up front and the more we looked, the more we said, ‘You know, hey, we have to turn this over to the PD. This is deeper than us.'”
— KOAA News 5 (@KOAA_5) November 5, 2015
Upon investigation, school administrators discovered that students were sharing explicit photos of other students and storing them on hidden photo vault apps. Those apps are often disguised as other common applications such as calculators, Fox 31 reports.
“It’s hundreds, and I mean it was flooring to us how many photos that we were finding on the phones that we confiscated,” Meuli was quoted as saying.
Sexting is defined as the practice of sending images with sexual or erotic content electronically, mainly through a mobile phone. Usually, this type of content is shared between people who maintain some kind of emotional attachment or under virtual relationships to show interest in the other person.
News of the widespread sexting scandal shocked many parents, including Sue Towner, whose son plays on the football team.
“I’m a little frustrated but I’m more concerned about the kids and their choices and I wish they had made better choices and maybe thought about their actions before they did those kinds of things,” Towner told KOAA.
According to a report from USA Today High School Sports, the investigation has already been passed along to local authorities. The Cañon City School District’s Facebook page posted the following message on Wednesday.
“The matter has been turned over to the Cañon City Police Department who explain the legal issues involved as follows: A person can be charged with a class 3 felony if they have taken a picture of themselves showing a naked private body part and sent it to another person, have received such a picture and forwarded it to another person, or have received such a picture and retained possession of it over time. Police representatives have said the primary focus of their investigation will be to determine if any adults were involved, and to determine whether any photos were coerced. Formal charges will be determined by the DA’s office.”
— KOAA News 5 (@KOAA_5) November 6, 2015
District Attorney Dan May said during a press conference that possessing nude pictures of minors could be considered child pornography — regardless of whether the picture is of oneself or someone else. Although students who are involved in the sexting scandal could face criminal charges, most would likely be put through a diversion program instead.
It’s unclear how long the Colorado high school sexting scandal has been happening, but some school officials believe it’s been going on for years. Superintendent George Welsh stated that the scandal was definitely going on for sure last year because there were several kids involved who have graduated and moved on. Welsh also said he believes the sexting was limited to only high school students, and he is confident that district staff or other adults were not involved.
[Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images News]