A Tennessee high school has canceled its basketball season after three players were charged with raping and assaulting a teammate while staying in a rental cabin for a tournament last month.
"We are devastated by the events that occurred during the athletic field trip during the holidays," Superintendent Rick Smith said in a statement Wednesday.
Because speculation surrounding the operation of the Ooltewah varsity program "could threaten the integrity of law enforcement's investigation," Smith said he was ending the season for the team.
Scott Bennett, the school district attorney, said the board officials were limited in what they could disclose because "there's actually an order that's come down from the juvenile court that has prohibited us from talking about this; so our hands have been tied from the very beginning."
However, police are stepping up their investigation.
In a statement Monday, the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office noted "recent media reports cite family members of OHS freshman basketball players who accuse upper class teammates of an ongoing pattern of assaults allegedly committed under the guise of hazing."
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said police want to know whether "whether there is a pattern, whether there's other incidents" involving the high school team.
The alleged rape occurred on Dec. 23 as the varsity team attended a tournament in Gatlingburg, about 100 miles away from Ooltewah. Three players were charged with aggravated rape and assault while the victim had to undergo surgery "due to the extent of his injuries."