Bills release punter Matt Araiza after accusations of gang rape in lawsuit

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Content warning: this story contains details of graphic sexual violence.

Matt Araiza and two other San Diego State football players have been accused of gang rape in a civil lawsuit. The suit was reported by the Los Angeles Times. The alleged gang rape occurred at an off-campus party at Araiza’s home in Oct. 2021. The alleged victim was 17 years old at the time of the incident.

Araiza is accused of raping a minor outside the home, and being part of a gang rape that occurred inside the home. San Diego State offensive lineman Zavier Leonard and former defensive lineman Pa’a Ewaliko are also named in the suit.

The alleged victim, who is now 18 years old, said Araiza handed her a drink that she believes contained “other intoxicating substances” aside from alcohol. The Los Angeles Times has the gruesome details of the suit. This comes with a trigger warning for sexual violence.

According to the lawsuit, the teen told Araiza she was a high school student and, even though he could see she was highly intoxicated, he took her outside and told her to perform oral sex, then had sex with her. Then Araiza took her to a bedroom where Leonard, Ewaliko and at least one other man were, the complaint alleged, and threw her down on the bed face first. The lawsuit said she was raped for an hour and a half until the party was shut down.

The teen “stumbled out of the room bloody and crying. Her nose, bellybutton, and ear piercings had been pulled out, and she was also bleeding from her vagina.”

The victim immediately told friends she was raped. She went to the police the next day, and took a rape exam.

Here’s another disturbing detail from the suit, via the LA times:

At the request of police, she made pretext calls — recorded by detectives — with the men named in the lawsuit whom police “had determined were present in the room when the rape occurred.” Araiza, the complaint alleged, confirmed on a call in late October that they had sex and recommended she get tested for a sexually transmitted disease. Later in the conversation, she asked him, “And did we have actual sex?” Araiza allegedly changed his tone and replied, “This is Matt Araiza. I don’t remember anything that happened that night.”

The accuser — who has not been identified because she is an alleged victim of rape — released photos to a local news station that shows bruises across her neck and leg. She has criticized local police and the university for their slow response in the handling of the investigation. The men could also be charged with statutory rape as she was a minor at the time of the alleged incident.

“I know I was not at fault,” she told the news station. “I know being a 17-year-old girl, almost unconscious 90% of the time in a room with several guys, bloody, and going in and out of consciousness is not something that was consensual.”

Araiza was a star punter for San Diego State last season who earned national acclaim for his powerful leg. Nicknamed “Punt God,” Araiza was selected in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He won the Bills’ starting punter job during the preseason.

On August 27, the Buffalo Bills reportedly informed Matt Araiza that he will be released from the team.

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