Former cheerleading coach pleads not guilty to charges he sent nude pictures to students

SEATTLE -- A former volunteer cheerleading coach at Kentwood High School and a private cheerleading academy pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he sent pictures of his genitals to two underage male cheerleaders.

Benjamin Canty, 29, of Auburn, was released on personal recognizance after his plea.

He was  charged Feb. 24  with two counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

He is accused of sending photos of his genitals between April 1, 2014, and last June 30 to two of his male cheerleaders at the high school -- one was 15 at the time and the other was 17.

In August 2015, the Kent School District reported they had been told about a coach sending nude pictures of himself to students.  At the time, Canty was a volunteer assistant cheerleading coach at Kentwood High School and also coached a private cheer squad known as South Elite All Stars.

Prosecutors said the 15-year-old victim, a cheerleader at the high school, said he had been receiving inappropriate pictures from Canty for seven to eight months.  All the pictures were sent via Snapchat. The boy said that at one point, Canty offered to give him eight free private tumbling lessons, a $500 value, if the boy would reciprocate and send an inappropriate photo of himself to him, prosecutors said.

The 17-year-old victim said he had gotten genital pictures from Canty in spring of 2014 and that it ended in June 2015, prosecutors said. He also said all pictures were sent via Snapchat.