Bills’ Matt Araiza, two SDSU teammates accused in gang-rape lawsuit

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Buffalo Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza is amongst three former and present San Diego State soccer gamers named in a lawsuit accusing them of collaborating within the gang rape of a minor.

The incident allegedly occurred throughout a celebration final October at Araiza’s off-campus residence throughout his redshirt junior season at SDSU. He received the Ray Man award after the season because the nation’s greatest collegiate punter earlier than declaring for the NFL draft, the place he was chosen by the Bills within the sixth spherical.

The San Diego County district lawyer’s workplace is weighing proof not too long ago submitted by detectives to find out whether or not to file costs, in keeping with the Los Angeles Instances. No arrests have been made.

The college launched its personal probe in July, in keeping with a timeline posted on its web site. SDSU mentioned that whereas it was first knowledgeable of sexual assault allegations shortly after the occasion, campus officers held off on an investigation on the behest of the San Diego Police Division, which requested they not take “actions that might compromise its criminal investigation.”

In line with the lawsuit, the complainant, then 17 and recognized in a California Superior Court docket submitting as Jane Doe, went out with mates that night to search out pre-Halloween events. The deal with of the occasion in query had been posted on Snapchat, the submitting says, and by the point Doe and her companions arrived she was “observably intoxicated.”

Araiza, then 21, handed Doe a drink that allegedly contained not simply alcohol however “other intoxicating substances,” in keeping with the lawsuit. After studying from Doe that she was a highschool pupil and thus prone to have been a minor, per the lawsuit, he’s accused of main her to a secluded space to have interaction in sexual activity. Araiza then introduced her to a room that already had three males in it, in keeping with the submitting, together with the 2 different named defendants, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko. Leonard is listed on the Aztecs’ roster as a redshirt freshman; Ewaliko was on final season’s roster as a freshman. The lawsuit says each have been roughly 18 on the time of the occasion.

In line with the lawsuit, Doe “went in and out of consciousness while she was being raped.” She remembered a number of males having intercourse along with her and seeing “a light in her periphery as if someone was taking a video using a cell phone,” the lawsuit says. The ordeal continued for about 1½ hours, per the submitting, till the occasion was “shut down.” Bleeding and distraught, Doe discovered her mates and advised them she had been raped, the lawsuit says. Inside two days, she reported the episode to police.

“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” the Bills mentioned Thursday in a statement. “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.”

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The NFL mentioned it was “aware” of the matter however had no fast remark. The league’s private conduct coverage wouldn’t apply as a result of the alleged occasions occurred earlier than Araiza was drafted. If he commits a brand new violation as an NFL participant, he may very well be topic to enhanced self-discipline whether it is decided he had a historical past of misconduct.

Kerry Armstrong, an lawyer for Araiza, advised the Los Angeles Instances he hadn’t seen the criticism. He described the rape accusation as false, and mentioned his investigator spoke to witnesses on the occasion who contradict the allegations.

“It’s a shakedown because he’s now with the Buffalo Bills,” Armstrong mentioned.

The lawyer who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the now-18-year-old Doe advised ESPN that the alleged episode 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,” the lawyer, Dan Gilleon, mentioned in a press release. “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.”

In July, Doe’s father criticized SDSU for ready months to launch its investigation.

“To keep it silent … [while] the same people that are alleged to have done this have been allowed to roam free, graduate, continue to play in their sports,” he mentioned then to the Los Angeles Instances. “It drives me bonkers.”

The college mentioned on its web site that when it acquired nameless submissions in October containing “third hand information about the alleged off-campus sexual assault,” it requested these making the submissions to satisfy with the varsity’s Title IX coordinator to offer extra info, however that its requests have been declined. These offering nameless info by means of December, the varsity mentioned, have been additionally requested to talk with San Diego police.

Describing the Title IX investigation it started final month as “an administrative procedure that determines only whether college or university policy has been violated,” SDSU mentioned it has “trust in the more powerful criminal investigation process and continues to comply with SDPD.”

“Something like this sticks with you forever,” Doe advised the L.A. Instances final month. “And all I can really do now is just hope that I can get some sort of justice somehow and feel like people are facing consequences for their actions, because I feel like I’ve been facing the consequences for their actions.”

Araiza, nicknamed the “Punt God” for his booming kicks, received the Bills’ beginning job in a coaching camp battle with incumbent veteran Matt Haack, who was launched Monday.

Mark Maske contributed to this report.

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