(Reuters) - No criminal charges will be filed against the 100-plus students involved in a sexting scandal at a Colorado high school, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The sharing of sexually explicit photos via text messages by Canon City High School students was widespread, Freemont County District Attorney Thom LeDoux told reporters.
However, he said, there was no evidence of "aggravating factors," such as the participation of adults, publication of the images online, bullying, sexual contact or coercion.
LeDoux said hundreds of "questionable" images were discovered during the investigation of students from the school, located southwest of Denver. But only a few of the subjects were identifiable, as most images did now show faces.
"Today's decision does not condone or excuse the behavior of the individuals involved," LeDoux said, according to footage of the news conference published online by local broadcaster ABC7.
In Colorado, the possession of explicit photos of minors is a felony.
"The production, distribution or possession of sexually exploitive materials of individuals under the age of 18 remains unlawful in the state of Colorado," he said.
Canon City Schools Superintendent George Welsh said the district has previously dealt with sexting, and that it is a problem at schools nationally, though not usually at so large a scale.
Welsh said the school has suspended multiple students, but declined to provide further details, citing privacy laws. In light of the scandal, the school decided to forfeit its final football game of the season.
The school district could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.
Canon City authorities said the discovery of nude, semi-nude or sexually suggestive images at the 1,100-student high school following a tip. Police told ABC7 the photos were taken and stored on an app called Photo Vault, which allows users to hide images.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Sara Catania and David Gregorio)