Buffalo Bills Release Punter Amid San Diego State Rape Lawsuit
Last updated 8/27/2022 at 8:57pm
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Buffalo Bills released punter Matt Araiza today, two days after he and two college teammates were accused in a lawsuit of
raping a 17-year-old girl last year when he was a San Diego State University student.
``This afternoon, we decided that releasing Matt Araiza was the best thing to do,'' general manager Brandon Beane tweeted. ``Our culture in Buffalo
is more important than winning football games.''
Araiza was not in uniform for Friday's 21-0 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Regarding allegations that he and two other then-SDSU players raped an underage girl at an off-campus house party in October, Araiza said in a
statement obtained by ESPN, ``The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight."
Araiza, a San Diego native dubbed ``Punt God'' for the accuracy and distance of his kicking, was drafted by the Bills in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft.
In a Thursday statement, the Bills said, ``We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021. 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.''
``The last 48 hours have been very difficult for a lot of people,'' Beane said. ``It's been tough. ... We sympathize with this whole situation, all the parties involved, this young woman, what she went through. Really feel bad for that whole situation. Ultimately this a legal situation, we don't know all the facts and that's what makes it hard.
``But at this time,'' he said, ``We just think it's the best move for everyone to move on from Matt and let him take care of this situation and focus
Beane also said, ``We did not know about this, and the league did not know about this,'' adding, ``We've reached out to I can tell you double-digit
teams at this point, and no one had anything on this.'' He said the team did not find out about the allegations until late July.
The lawsuit filed Thursday alleges Araiza, Zavier Leonard, and Nowlin ``Pa'a'' Ewaliko raped the then-17-year-old last October while she was heavily
No arrests have been made in the case, though the San Diego Police Department said it has completed its investigation and submitted the results of
their probe to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office for review and possible filing of criminal charges.
Earlier Saturday, Leonard, an SDSU redshirt freshman offensive lineman was removed from the football team's roster.
Asked about the roster move, SDSU's sports media relations department released a one-sentence statement: ``Regarding Zavier Leonard: He is no longer on the roster or participating in team activities.''
Ewaliko, a redshirt defensive lineman, was included on San Diego State's 2022 roster dated July 18, but was no longer with the program when
preseason camp opened Aug. 5.
In the complaint, the teen -- identified as Jane Doe -- attended a Halloween party on Oct. 17 with three friends at a house where Araiza lived.
The suit alleges Araiza ``could observe that Doe was heavily intoxicated'' but handed her a drink, which the complaint says contained not
just alcohol, but also ``other intoxicating substances.'' It also alleges Doe informed Araiza that she was attending high school at the time.
The suit alleges Araiza led her to the side yard of the house and had sex with her, then took her to a bedroom where at least three other men were
present, ``including defendants Leonard and Ewaliko.''
The suit alleges Araiza threw her onto a bed and multiple men raped her over the course of 90 minutes while she ``went in and out of consciousness.''
After reporting the incident to the police, the suit states that detectives arranged for her to make ``pretext'' phone calls with the men.
During a call with Araiza, the suit alleges he ``confirmed having sex with Doe, even telling her that she should get tested for STDs.'' When she
asked him directly again whether they had sex, he allegedly said, ``This is Matt Araiza. I don't remember anything that happened that night'' and
immediately hung up.
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