LOS ANGELES – Billy Ray Cyrus says the seminude photos of his superstar daughter, "Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus, were taken after he left the Vanity Fair shoot.
"Miley's parents did leave the shoot and were not present for the final shot, nor did they see any digital images of the shot in question," a Miley spokeswoman told the New York Post on Monday, referring to the photo showing the 15-year-old partially naked and covered by a sheet.
Her grandmother and her teacher were left to supervise as famous photographer Annie Leibovitz snapped away, according to People magazine.
"Annie convinced them it was going to be artistic," a source told People. "Her parents are mortified."
The Disney Channel, whose "Hannah Montana" empire is worth nearly $1 billion, has ordered Miley to lie low, according to the New York Post's Page Six gossip column.
"You won't be seeing her for a while," a high-ranking Disney employee was overheard saying this weekend at a luncheon in L.A., according to Page Six. "The company is keeping her away from events and wants her to keep a very low profile for the next four to six months. They're trying to keep her contained."
Vanity Fair, on its Web site, called the shoot, "a relaxed family event."
Miley's idol, actress-singer Hilary Duff, told ABC News radio she wouldn't have posed for similar pictures.
"It's not something that I would choose to do, but if she did them, that's fine," Duff said. "I don't know how her fans would feel about it, but maybe they won't mind."
Fans and parents seemed mixed on the issue.
"I think it's disgusting Miley was photographed in this way," one person wrote on Vanity Fair's Web site.
But at teen site allykatzz.com, one fan wrote: “I think it isnt as much as people are making it it wasnt made to be racy !! it was just a photo shoot i still love miley!”
Michele Combs, a spokeswoman for Christian Coalition of America, told Usmagazine.com that "Disney should reprimand" Miley.
Combs is calling for a televised press conference, where "Miley should say it was a mistake and that kids have to be very careful at such a young age."
Miley herself has had misgivings about the shoot.
"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed," Cyrus said Sunday in a statement through her publicist. "I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about."
The photos, appearing in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, were taken by Leibovitz, a renowned celebrity photographer whose edgy, silver-toned portraits have included subjects such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and a naked, pregnant Demi Moore.
"I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted," Leibovitz said in a statement released by Vanity Fair. "Miley and I looked at fashion photographs together and we discussed the picture in that context before we shot it. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful."
The Cyrus pictures accompany an interview with the pop star and her father.
The Disney Channel, which airs Cyrus' TV show "Hannah Montana," was also critical of Vanity Fair.
"Unfortunately, as the article suggests, a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines," a network statement said.
Vanity Fair defended the story and photo shoot in a statement of its own.
"Miley's parents and/or minders were on the set all day," the magazine said. "Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley."
In a caption released by Vanity Fair with the photo, Cyrus expressed her comfort with how the apparently topless picture turned out.
"I think it's really artsy," she told the magazine at the time. "It wasn't in a skanky way. Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought that was really cool. That's what she wanted me to do, and you can't say no to Annie."
A handful of borderline racy snapshots of a girl who appeared to be Cyrus have appeared on the Internet in recent months, including images of a girl posing in her underwear and bikini last week. In one shot, she's draped over a young man.
Cyrus is one of the biggest — and most G-rated — acts in the country and is often considered a role model for young girls. Her "Best of Both Worlds" tour sold out arenas, and her successful 3-D concert film collected $31.3 million in its opening weekend in February.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.