Bills' Matt Araiza Issues Statement on Gang Rape Allegations, Lawsuit

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 27, 2022

Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

Matt Araiza issued a statement Friday after a woman filed a civil lawsuit Thursday and said he and two San Diego State teammates gang-raped her in October 2021 when the Buffalo Bills punter was still in college.

"The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press," Araiza said. "I look forward to quickly setting the record straight."

Zavier Leonard and Nowlin "Pa'a" Ewaliko are listed as the other two defendants. Leonard remains with the San Diego State football team, but Ewaliko is no longer on the roster.

They were both teammates of Araiza's last season.

Colleen Shalby and Robert J. Lopez of the Los Angeles Times reported the woman said Araiza offered her a drink that "not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances." She said the punter had sex with her after telling her to perform oral sex and then brought her into a room.

According to the lawsuit, the woman said Araiza, Leonard and at least one other man gang-raped her for an hour and a half in that room.

While she underwent a rape exam at a hospital and reported the rape to the San Diego Police Department the next day, no charges have been filed. Shalby and Lopez reported detectives "recently submitted their investigation to the San Diego County District Attorney's office," which will "determine whether charges should be filed."

Araiza's statement echoed similar words from his lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, who called the lawsuit "a shakedown because he's now with the Buffalo Bills."

The Bills, who selected the punter with a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, also released a statement:

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>

Araiza did not play in Friday's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.

Instead, third-string quarterback Matt Barkley assumed the punting duties.


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