Bills bettor Matt Araiza charged with rape in California civil lawsuit | Buffalo Bills News | NFL

Buffalo Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza and two former San Diego State University teammates have been charged in a California civil lawsuit with raping a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party. last fall.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court, alleges that Araiza, then 21, had sex with the minor outside a house where he lived and then killed her. brought inside to a room where she was repeatedly raped in the early hours of October 17.

The lawsuit alleges the then high school student identified as “Jane Doe” walked in and lost consciousness, but remembers the times the men assaulted her. The others named in the complaint are Zavier Leonard and Nowlin Ewaliko. Leonard is on San Diego State’s fall roster as a redshirt freshman. Ewaliko was on the team last year but is not on the roster this fall.

According to the complaint, the woman had already been drinking with friends when she arrived at the home and was “visibly drunk”. The woman said Araiza handed her a drink at the party which she said “contained not only alcohol, but other intoxicants,” according to the lawsuit. She also said she told Araiza she was in high school. He then drove her to a side yard where he asked her to perform oral sex, then had sex with her, according to the suit, before leading her inside.

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The suit said she told her friends after the incident and turned herself in to police the next day. The complaint says she waited about five hours before an officer spoke to her. She was then taken to the hospital for a rape examination.

The The Los Angeles Times first reported the trial.

Araiza, 22, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Bills in May. He earned the nickname “Punt God” for his prolific punting in college. He won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s outstanding punter last season. Araiza won a competition to be the team’s punter against veteran Matt Haack this week.

The Bills released the following statement: “We recently became aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021. Due to the seriousness of the complaint, we have conducted a thorough review of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil matter, we will have no further comment at this stage.

Araiza’s San Diego-based attorney, Kerry Armstrong, told the Los Angeles Times that he did not review the complaint but called the rape accusation false. He said his investigator spoke to party witnesses who contradicted the allegations against Araiza.

“It’s a shakedown because he’s now with the Buffalo Bills,” Armstrong told The Times. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Matt Araiza has raped this girl before.”

Armstrong did not return a message from the Buffalo News.

Lawyers for Leonard and Ewaliko told The Times they could not comment.

Dan Gilleon, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, released a statement saying: “It was a horrific crime, the kind of crime that happens too often. What makes these crimes different is not just that they were committed by self-proclaimed athletes.Just as gruesome as the crimes, for months several organizations – SDSU, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego District Attorney and now the Buffalo Bills – have played the role of facilitators who looked the other way to deny that my client even deserves justice if the defendants are big-name athletes.”

Regarding the allegation of a “shakedown,” Gilleon told The Buffalo News that Armstrong “offered him money before he made the cut” this week, winning the job over Haack.

“We ignored the offer,” Gilleon told The News. “We never asked him for a penny.”

Gilleon also posted a screenshot of a text message apparently from Armstrong that “his very nice parents have asked to contact you and ask what number your client is looking for.”

Armstrong texted Gilleon on July 30 after Gilleon tried to contact Araiza, according to text messages Gilleon posted on Twitter. “Do you respond to my message to Araiza or my e-mails to the Bills,” read the texts published by Gilleon.

Gilleon provided The News with an email he sent to the Bills on July 31 advising the team of the allegations and impending civil litigation.

An investigation by the Los Angeles Times in June found that the campus community had not been alerted by the university to the alleged rape and had waited more than seven months to launch its own investigation. This June report did not contain information on specific actors allegedly involved.

No arrests were made. San Diego police have not publicly identified any suspects. The Times reported that detectives recently submitted their investigation to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office to determine if charges should be brought.

Araiza is not punished by the NFL because the alleged assault happened before he was drafted. Alleged misconduct that occurs before a player enters the NFL is not included under the terms of the league’s personal conduct policy agreed to by the players’ union.

Araiza is the only bettor on the roster for the Bills’ final exhibition game Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.

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