(HOQUIAM, Wash.) — A high school football player accused of rape has decided to quit the team despite school officials defending his right to play, saying he is “innocent until proven guilty,” his attorney told ABC News Wednesday.
Tyler Smith, 18, was arrested last month and faces two counts of rape from an incident alleged to have happened during the summer, and another in 2012, according to court documents.
“He’s not going to play for the rest of the year,” Smith’s attorney Scott Campbell said. “You show up at practice, there’s a news truck there. It’s something he and his family decided.”
“He felt like it was a distraction for his team and the school and he didn’t want that,” Campbell said.
Hoquiam High School and the district’s superintendent were allowing Smith to stay on as the team’s defensive tackle, despite outrage from other students’ parents, ABC affiliate KOMO reported. Hoquiam School District Superintendent Mike Parker said he backed the coach’s decision to let Smith play.
“We felt that he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Parker told the station. “As bad as the crime might be, as repulsive as the crime might be, we’re trusting that the court system will sort that out for us.”
Smith is accused of raping one girl this past summer and another victim in 2012. The teen admitted to police that one of the victims said no, but stated, “Yeah, but I thought she was saying ‘no’ for pleasure and not to stop having sex,” according to the charging documents.
Smith declined an interview with ABC News through his attorney.
Smith pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned last month. He is due back in court on Oct. 27 and his trial is scheduled for Dec. 2.
His case comes as professional and college football players are also in the spotlight for abuse allegations.
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