ORCHARD PARK – NFL rookie punter Matt Araiza has been released from the Buffalo Bills days after he and two other football players were accused in a lawsuit of gang raping a then-17-year-old girl during an off-campus party at San Diego State University last year.
“This afternoon, we decided that releasing Matt Araiza was the best thing to do. Our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games,” team general manager Brandon Beane announced on Saturday.
Araiza and two other current or former San Diego State University football players are accused of gang raping the girl at a Halloween party last year, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the attorney for the plaintiff identified in court documents as “Jane Doe.”
and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, were on San Diego State’s football team at the time of the alleged incident last October.
Araiza’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, said Friday his client did not rape the accuser.
“The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight,” Araiza said in a statement issued through his attorney.
Jane Doe says she attended a party in the San Diego area with friends, but was separated from them when she met Araiza, according to the claim. The filing further asserts Araiza “could observe that Doe was heavily intoxicated” and “handed her a drink anyway.”
“Doe informed Araiza that she attended Grossmont High School. Araiza, who was 21 years old, knew or should have known that Doe was a minor,” the complaint says.
Araiza’s attorney disputed the claim, saying, “He never used any force against her. She was not visibly intoxicated. He did not hand her a drink with anything in it.”
The complaint says Araiza led the girl to a bedroom where “there were at least three other men already in the bedroom,” including Leonard and Ewaliko, who were both at least 18 at the time.
“Doe was raped for about an hour and a half until the party was shut down. Doe stumbled out of the room bloody and crying,” said the complaint.
The girl reported the alleged incident the next day to the San Diego Police Department and underwent a rape examination at a hospital, according to the lawsuit.