Buffalo Payments punter Matt Araiza has been accused in a civil lawsuit of collaborating within the gang-rape of a teen final yr at an off-campus get together together with two different soccer gamers at San Diego State College.
Araiza denied the accusation. “The info of the incident aren’t what they’re portrayed within the lawsuit or within the press,” he stated in an announcement shared Friday night on Twitter by the NFL Community’s Ian Rapoport.
“I sit up for shortly setting the document straight,” the participant stated.
Filed in San Diego County superior courtroom Thursday, the lawsuit accuses Araiza, together with Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, of sexually assaulting a then-17-year-old woman at a Halloween home get together held at a residence the place Araiza had been dwelling.
The lawsuit alleges that the 17-year-old, who’s recognized solely as Jane Doe, had been ingesting with mates once they went to the Halloween get together on Oct. 17. It stated she was “observably intoxicated” when she arrived on the occasion.
Later, after turning into separated from her mates, the woman was approached by Araiza, then a scholar at San Diego State, who provided her a drink, the lawsuit stated. “Doe didn’t see Araiza pour her drink, however she accepted the drink and commenced consuming it,” the lawsuit stated, alleging that: “Upon info and perception, this drink not solely contained alcohol, however different intoxicating substances.”
The criticism stated the teenager had instructed Araiza, who was 21 on the time, that she was a highschool senior. She alleged that he then took her to a aspect yard, the place he requested her to carry out oral intercourse on him after which had intercourse together with her, earlier than taking her to a bed room within the dwelling.
The criticism states there have been no less than three different males within the room, together with Leonard and Ewaliko. It alleges that the teenager fell out and in of consciousness as she was being raped, however stated: “She does bear in mind some moments from the horrific gang rape.”
Round an hour and a half later, the lawsuit alleges that the teenager “stumbled out of the room bloody and crying,” together with her nostril, stomach button and ear piercings having additionally been pulled out. She was bleeding from the vagina, the lawsuit alleges.
The teenager instructed her mates what occurred and the subsequent day, reported it to police and underwent a rape examination, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit stated officers had the teenager contact the gamers in recorded exchanges, together with a recorded name to Araiza, throughout which it stated the soccer participant confirmed that he had intercourse together with her. Nonetheless, when she requested if him they’d “precise intercourse” the criticism stated Araiza modified his tone, saying: “That is Matt Araiza. I do not bear in mind something that occurred that night time.”
Araiza has been lauded as a “Punt God” on the sphere for his punting talents, whereas Leonard was beforehand listed on San Diego State’s roster as a redshirt freshman offensive lineman, based on The Los Angeles Occasions. As of early Friday morning, Leonard’s title didn’t look like on the roster. Ewaliko was not named on this yr’s roster, however appeared on the college’s 2021 roster as a defensive lineman.
Kerry Armstrong, an lawyer for Araiza stated he had been “on the case about six weeks” and stated he “seems to be ahead to courtroom.”
“I had a non-public investigator get on the case instantly. We’ve interviewed witnesses who had been on the home that night time together with no less than one of many sufferer’s mates who got here to the home that night time together with her,” the lawyer stated. “Primarily based on every little thing I’ve learn and seen and heard I 100% don’t imagine the Matt Araiza forcibly raped this woman or raped her whereas she was intoxicated which is a criminal offense in California.”
NBC Information has contacted attorneys reportedly representing Leonard and Ewaliko. They didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
Legal professional Marc Xavier Carlos, who’s representing Ewaliko, based on The Los Angeles Occasions, instructed the newspaper he couldn’t touch upon the lawsuit and that he was nonetheless investigating what transpired. He stated his consumer is not at San Diego State. Legal professional Jamahl Kersey, who reportedly represents Leonard, instructed the newspaper he had not seen the lawsuit and couldn’t remark.
Calling the alleged incident a “horrific crime, the sort of which occurs all too typically,” Dan Gilleon, an lawyer for the lady who filed the lawsuit, additionally accused numerous organizations of failing to motion on the case.
“What makes these crimes totally different is just not solely that they had been dedicated by self-entitled athletes,” Gilleon stated in an announcement. “Simply as terrible because the crimes, for months, a number of organizations —SDSU, the San Diego Police Division, the San Diego District Legal professional, and now the Buffalo Payments — have acted the a part of enablers wanting the opposite method in denial that my consumer deserves justice even when the defendants are prized athletes.”
The San Diego State College stated in an announcement that the college “takes allegations of sexual assault critically.”
“As this entails an lively college investigation, and given legal guidelines governing privateness (FERPA), the college is just not capable of present particular particulars concerning its investigation,” it stated. ” Nonetheless, SDSU’s impartial investigative course of stays lively and is ongoing following California State College systemwide coverage.”
“If a scholar is discovered to be in violation of the scholar code of conduct, as the results of an intensive investigation, disciplinary motion consists of however is just not restricted to suspension, dismissal or expulsion,” the college stated.
The SDSU stated in an assertion printed on-line on Thursday that the San Diego Police Division had requested that the college not take any motion on the case, together with launching an investigation and conducting interviews, to “keep away from compromising its personal legal investigation.”
“As members of the media have now reported on the SDPD investigation, the college is offering details about its actions, its assets and its dedication to supporting an intensive and full police investigation, which each and every sufferer deserves,” the college stated.
The college stated that on July 22, police had confirmed that SDSU may “proceed with its personal conduct-related course of with out compromising SDPD’s legal investigation.”
The Buffalo Payments stated in an announcement: “We had been lately made conscious of a civil criticism involving Matt from October 2021.”
“Because of the severe nature of the criticism, we performed an intensive examination of this matter. As that is an ongoing civil case, we may have no different remark at this level,” the workforce stated.
The NFL stated it was “conscious of the matter however will decline additional remark right now.” Because the incident is alleged to have occurred earlier than Araiza was drafted, it might not be topic to sure NFL private conduct insurance policies.
Araiza was not anticipated to play in opposition to the Panthers within the workforce’s preseason finale Friday night time, the NFL stated. Backup quarterback Matt Barkley was fielded in his place.
The San Diego County District Legal professional’s Workplace stated in an announcement that the San Diego Police Division had submitted its investigation to its workplace and stated it was presently below evaluation.
“There is no such thing as a timeline for the way lengthy it’ll take,” it stated.
The San Diego Police Division didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.