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Bills' Matt Araiza, 2 SDSU CFB Players Sued for Allegedly Gang-Raping 17-Year-Old

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 25, 2022

Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

A civil lawsuit accuses three current and former San Diego State football players, including Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza, of gang-raping a 17-year-old girl in October 2021, according to Colleen Shalby and Robert J. Lopez of the Los Angeles Times.

Araiza, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin "Pa'a" Ewaliko are all listed in the complaint, which was filed Thursday in state court.

Ewaliko is part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the incident and is no longer on the San Diego State roster. Leonard remains on the football team as a redshirt freshman.

Araiza was drafted by the Bills with the first pick in the sixth round and has become a viral sensation known as the "Punt God." After an 82-yard punt in a preseason game, Buffalo released fellow punter Matt Haack to secure a roster spot for Araiza.

The Bills released a statement on the lawsuit Thursday:

Heather Prusak @haprusak

Bills statement: <br>“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021. <br>Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we conducted a thorough examination of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no other comment at this point.” <a href="https://t.co/AsLHRNIl5Q">https://t.co/AsLHRNIl5Q</a>

Per the Times, "In her lawsuit, the woman said she had already been drinking with friends when they arrived at the party on Rockford Drive, and Araiza, who lived at the home, gave her a drink. She believes the drink 'not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,' the complaint said."

The woman said she was raped for an hour and a half before the party was shut down, with Araiza, Leonard, Ewaliko and at least one other man present in the room.

Araiza's lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, has denied the allegations.

"It's a shakedown because he’s now with the Buffalo Bills," Armstrong said. "There is no doubt in my mind that Matt Araiza ever raped that girl."

The Los Angeles Times initially reported in June there were claims that five football players gang-raped a girl and that San Diego State had "waited more than seven months to launch its own investigation."

San Diego State later announced it had been trying not to interfere with the San Diego Police Department investigation while noting there was a report of an off-campus sexual assault on Oct. 18.

In the lawsuit, the woman said she went to the police one day after the party and underwent a rape exam at a hospital.

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