Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza accused of participating in rape of 17-year-old girl

Sal Maiorana
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Punter Matt Araiza sends the ball downfield during special teams drills on the last day of the Buffalo Bills training camp at St John Fisher University in Rochester Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.

Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza has been accused of having partaken in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl in October 2021 while he was a student at San Diego State the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday.

“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” the Bills said in a statement released Thursday night. “Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we conducted a thorough examination of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil case legal, we will have no other comment at this point.”

Araiza, who was picked in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft and was just given the Bills’ punting job earlier in the week after he won a competition with Matt Haack, was named in a civil lawsuit filed in San Diego County Superior Court along with former teammates Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko.

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Araiza’s lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, was contacted by the Times and he said he hadn’t reviewed the complaint but called the rape accusation false. He said his investigator spoke to witnesses from the party where the alleged incident occurred who contradict the allegations against Araiza.

“It’s a shakedown because he’s now with the Buffalo Bills,” Armstrong said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Matt Araiza ever raped that girl.”

The Bills left Buffalo Thursday bound for Charlotte where they will play their final preseason game Friday night against the Panthers.

Bills punter Matt Araiza eyes in the ball as he works through drills on the second day of the Buffalo Bills training camp at St. John Fisher University in Rochester Monday, July 25, 2022.

It is not known whether Araiza made the trip with the team. If he did, it is also unknown whether the Bills would dress him for the game, pending investigation of the matter.

The team cut Haack last week, and he just signed with the Indianapolis Colts. No other punters were in Buffalo’s training camp.

The Times reported that San Diego State knew of the situation and it decided not to alert the campus community and did not launch its own investigation until May 2022.

It's official:The winning Matt for the Bills punting job is Araiza

None of the three football players have been arrested or charged and San Diego police have not publicly identified any suspects before the lawsuit was filed. The Times reported that detectives only recently submitted their investigation to the San Diego County district attorney’s office to determine whether charges should be filed.

The Times reported that the alleged victim, who is now 18, spoke out publicly for the first time last month. She said she was traumatized and had to finish up her senior year of high school online. In the lawsuit, she said she had sex with Arazia outside the home where the party was being held, and then was brought inside where she was repeatedly raped. She said she went in and out of consciousness but remembers moments as the men took turns assaulting her.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Dan Gilleon, released a statement that read: “This was a horrific crime, the kind of which happens all too often. What makes these crimes different is not only that they were committed by self-entitled athletes. Just as awful as the crimes, for months, multiple organizations - SDSU, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego District Attorney, and now the Buffalo Bills - have acted the part of enablers looking the other way in denial that my client deserves justice even if the defendants are prized athletes.”

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