Cañon City (Colo.) School District has canceled its high school football team’s final regular-season game over a sexting scandal involving a “large-scale” number of players, according to a statement issued to local media.
Responding to anonymous tips on Colorado’s Safe2Tell system, the district determined “a number of our 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 statement said. The investigation has been passed along to local authorities.
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.
Because a large number of our high school football players were implicated in this behavior the coaching staff and administration, after careful thought and consideration, decided that stepping on the field to play this weekend to represent the Cañon City community is just not an option. We realize this decision will unfairly penalize many of our fine young men who clearly did not participate in these actions. However, we concluded it was impossible to safely field an entire team representative of the personal qualities and characteristics that truly represent the history of the Cañon City High School football program.
Cañon City’s football team was scheduled to play league rival Discovery Canyon (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Saturday with a shot to go 4-1 in the conference (5-5 overall) and automatically qualify for the Class 3A state playoffs. Instead, the Tigers (4-6) are unlikely to qualify for postseason play based on the state’s power points qualification system.
“We’re not talking a couple kids that did something stupid,” Cañon City superintendent George Welsh told The Denver Post. “This is large-scale, a lot of kids, equally male and female. It would be impossible to field a full team of only players who we’re sure did not participate in this in any way.”
According to the Cañon City Daily Record and KOAA-TV, administrators believe the sexts have been sent for years, kids collected them like trading cards and they’d be hard-pressed to find students who weren’t aware of the practice.
“Obviously, that’s the not the way anybody wanted the season to end,” Cañon City football coach Tom O’Rourke told the local paper. “You have hopes and dreams going into things and sometimes reality or fate doesn’t see eye to eye with you. If nothing else, all I can do is hope that something good does come out of this. Kids are kids and they’re going to make stupid mistakes. We were all kids, and we all made stupid mistakes. This one’s up there.”