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Bills punter Matt Araiza among 3 San Diego State football players accused of gang rape

The accusations in a civil lawsuit against the former Aztec are heinous

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

Content warning: this story contains details of rape and sexual violence.

Current Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza has been accused in a civil lawsuit of gang-raping a 17-year-old high school student last fall along with several of his football teammates at San Diego State University. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court and includes horrendous details that could lead to criminal charges. Those details have been reported out by the Los Angeles Times.

Araiza, then 21, is accused of having sex with the intoxicated minor outside of a house party and bringing her inside a room where he was joined by teammates to allegedly repeatedly rape the then-high school senior while she was in and out of consciousness. The lawsuit claims she was drinking with friends before Araiza, who lived at the home, gave her a drink. According to the lawsuit, the victim claims the drink from Araiza contained more than alcohol.

The other named football players are Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko.

More reporting from the Times shows Araiza’s name being linked to the incident as early as days after the mid-October 2021 house party.

“I hope this isn’t true for Matt’s sake,” a student said in an Oct. 26 report that was reviewed by The Times. “But if it’s true I hope he gets the repercussions he deserves and [the] girl gets justice.”

There are several horrific details in the Times report we are choosing not to share in our forum, but the alleged attack lasted for more than an hour, the alleged victim immediately told her friends, and a day later went to the police, waiting five hours to speak with an officer. For more details, read the full report from The Los Angeles Times. The accuser has not been named as she is the victim of an alleged rape.

During the police investigation, the accuser made pretext phone calls recorded by detectives, per the civil complaint. According to the complaint, Araiza confirmed on a call that the pair had sex and she should get tested for a sexually transmitted disease, but later in the conversation, Araiza changed his message, saying he didn’t remember what happened on the night in question. Since they were recorded by police detectives, those will presumably be made available at a later date during the civil or criminal investigations.

According to the Times, detectives with the San Diego police recently submitted their investigations to the district attorney to determine if charges should be filed. The initial conclusion of the criminal investigation seems like a logical reason for the civil lawsuit to proceed at this time. Police have not publicly named suspects and have not made any arrests.

Araiza’s lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, said he hadn’t reviewed the complaint but called the rape accusation false. He said his investigator spoke to witnesses from the party 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.”

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

According to Tim Graham of The Athletic, the Bills were made aware of the allegations last month and did not know when they selected him in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. They did know when they released Matt Haack earlier this week, however. Haack was signed by the Indianapolis Colts.