Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza was named in a civil lawsuit filed on Thursday in which he is accused of gang raping a 17-year-old girl last year along with two other San Diego State football players. The incident allegedly happened at an off-campus party in October.
Araiza has rapidly become a star over the last two years for his mammoth kicks. He's garnered the nickname "Punt God" and recently won the Bills' punting job after he hammered an 82-yarder during the preseason. He had become a cult hero during his time at San Diego State and won the Ray Guy Award and was named a unanimous All-American in 2021. The Bills selected him with the 180th pick in the sixth-round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The San Diego police department received a report of the incident on October 18, 2021 and launched an investigation. San Diego State also began to research what it could do via its Title IX office. The university offered to comply with SDPD's investigation and on October 28, the department requested the university temporarily delay its investigation so it didn't interfere with the criminal case.
Fellow players Zavier Leonard and Nowlin "Pa'a" Ewaliko are also named in the lawsuit. The woman was a high school senior at the time of the incident.
A July report in the Los Angeles Times explored the investigation and had these details about the alleged incident:
She arrived at the Halloween party dressed as a fairy. She had already been drinking with her friends, she said, when she met a San Diego State football player at the house just blocks from campus. The player gave her a drink and eventually led her inside the house to a bedroom where she said several of his teammates took turns sexually assaulting her, slamming her down on a bed and ripping out her piercings.
Covered in blood, she found her friends outside after what she believed to be more than an hour.
“I was just raped,” she told them.
The next day, with bruises across her neck and down her legs, she filed a report with San Diego police and underwent a rape exam at Rady Children’s Hospital. The arduous process lasted through the night as her body was swabbed and she was tested for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Well that sounds horrific.
Rumors around campus had Araiza connected to the rape within a few days of it happening but nothing was done about it. He continued to play and had a wildly successful season.