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Allegations Against Matt Araiza, the Buffalo Bills Rookie: What to Know

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The Buffalo Bills cut the rookie punter Matt Araiza on Saturday, two days after he was accused in a lawsuit of raping a 17-year-old girl last October. The lawsuit also accused two of his teammates at San Diego State of rape stemming from an incident at an off-campus party.

In response to a lawsuit filed Thursday in San Diego Superior Court, Araiza, who was 21 on the time, knew the girl was in highschool and will see she was intoxicated.

Araiza denied the claims. In an announcement released through his agent Friday, he said: “The facts of the incident should not what they’re portrayed within the lawsuit or within the press. I sit up for quickly setting the record straight.”

A lawyer for Zavier Leonard, one other of the accused men, declined to comment when reached by The Latest York Times. The third man accused within the lawsuit, Nowlin Ewaliko, didn’t reply to a request for comment.

Here’s what is thought concerning the allegations.

Araiza, 22, was perhaps essentially the most noteworthy punter in college football last season. Often known as the “Punt God” at San Diego State, he averaged an N.C.A.A. record 51.2 yards per punt in 2021, his junior yr. He was also the team’s kicker during his three seasons at the college.

After Araiza won the Ray Guy Award, annually given to the very best collegiate punter, the Bills drafted him within the sixth round of the N.F.L. draft in April, well behind two punters chosen within the fourth round who had arguably less impressive statistics.

Araiza won the starting job over the Bills’ veteran punter, Matt Haack, in training camp and gained some web fame for his 82-yard punt in his first preseason game in August.

The teenager says in her lawsuit that Araiza and two of his then-teammates on the San Diego State football team took turns raping her during a Halloween party at an off-campus house in October 2021, while she was “observably intoxicated.”

In response to the suit, she told Araiza that she was attending a neighborhood highschool on the time of the party. She was under the age of consent, which is eighteen in California.

Araiza supplied the teenager a drink and led her to the side yard, where he raped her orally and vaginally, the suit said. He then took her to a bedroom contained in the house, where she said a gaggle of men, including the 2 other defendants in her civil suit, were waiting. In response to the lawsuit, Araiza threw the teenager onto the bed face first and “the boys took turns having sex along with her from behind” while she went out and in of consciousness.

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The girl said in her lawsuit that she was raped for about an hour and a half and “stumbled out of the room bloody and crying.”

Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s criminal defense attorney, didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. But in an interview on Thursday with a San Diego TV reporter, Armstrong denied that Araiza forced the girl to have sex.

“He’s one hundred pc adamant that he never forcibly raped this young lady or forcibly had sex along with her in any sort of way or had sexual relations along with her while she was intoxicated, whether it’s on alcohol or drugs,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong claimed that investigators who spoke to witnesses said the teenager was not drunk and that she had told them she was a school student. He also said that Araiza is just being named within the case because he has joined an N.F.L. team.

“I believe this can be a money grab on her part,” Armstrong said. “She sees some dollar signs at the tip of the highway.”

Dan Gilleon, who represents the teenager, denied that. He posted on social media a screenshot of an Aug. 1 text by which Armstrong appears to be asking Gilleon what amount of cash would get his client to settle. “We ignored the bush-league offer and filed a case,” Gilleon wrote Friday in his post.

Criminal charges are being considered.

In her lawsuit, the girl said she reported the incident to the San Diego Police Department the following day and underwent a rape examination at a hospital. In response to the suit, detectives from the Sex Crimes Unit arrange a tape-recorded phone call between the victim and Araiza, during which he confirmed having had sex along with her and told her she should get tested for sexually transmitted diseases, before changing his tone when she asked more pointed questions.

A public affairs officer for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that police have submitted their investigation for review. “There isn’t any timeline for the way long it can take,” the general public affairs officer said Friday in an email.

The team announced it had cut Araiza in a news conference Saturday night that followed a team practice. “We don’t know all of the facts, and that’s what makes it hard, but right now we predict it’s the very best move for everybody to maneuver on from Matt and let him care for this example,” said Brandon Beane, the team’s general manager.

Beane said the team learned concerning the accusations from the girl’s lawyer in late July, about three months after Araiza was drafted. “We tried to be thorough and thoughtful and never rush to judgment,” he said. “It’s demanding.”

The team told The Los Angeles Times on Thursday that “as a consequence of the intense nature of the criticism, we conducted an intensive examination of this matter.”

Gilleon, the lawyer for the accuser, emailed Kathryn D’Angelo, the assistant general counsel for the Bills, on July 31 to tell the team that his client was accusing Araiza of rape, in accordance with a screenshot that was reviewed by The Latest York Times. Gilleon then spoke to D’Angelo by phone on Aug. 1. Gilleon contacted the Bills after the team drafted Araiza but before it cut Haack.

The team didn’t ask to talk to the accuser, in accordance with Gilleon’s law firm. The Bills didn’t reply to The Latest York Times’s request for details on their investigation.

The Bills played their last preseason game on Friday in Charlotte, N.C., against the Carolina Panthers. In response to reports, Araiza traveled with the team but he didn’t dress for the sport. He was released the following day.

The N.F.L. didn’t reply to several requests for comment. Discipline of players — including suspensions — is governed by the league’s personal conduct policy, which doesn’t cover actions that took place before a player or other worker joined a team or league office. The league has no plans to conduct an investigation.

The Bills may cut Araiza or another player for conduct it deems detrimental to the team. That broad definition covers many things, including ongoing legal matters. Araiza signed a four-year contract price nearly $3.9 million, with $216,000 of that quantity guaranteed.

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