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Report: Execs from 2 Teams Were Aware of Matt Araiza Allegations Before NFL Draft

Doric SamAugust 28, 2022

Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

Rookie punter Matt Araiza was released by the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night after he was accused of participating in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl while a student at San Diego State.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Saturday the team was not aware of the allegations made against Araiza when it drafted the player. However, executives from two different teams told John Wawrow of the Associated Press that "they became aware of Araiza’s involvement in an incident during the draft process" but didn't know the extent of the allegations.

Wawrow noted the Bills weren't the only team completely in the dark about the situation, stating, "Executives from three other teams said they had no knowledge of the allegations against Araiza before the draft and only learned of the incident Thursday."

Last Thursday, Colleen Shalby and Robert J. Lopez of the Los Angeles Times reported that a civil lawsuit was filed by the woman, who is now 18 and is listed as "Jane Doe," saying Araiza and former Aztecs teammates Zavier Leonard and Nowlin "Pa'a" Ewaliko raped her at an off-campus party in October 2021.

The Bills released a statement saying they "conducted a thorough examination" of the matter but didn't comment further. Araiza had been named the team's starting punter last Monday when veteran Matt Haack was released.

The lawyer for "Jane Doe," Dan Gilleon, issued a statement accusing the Bills of ignoring the concerns surrounding Araiza when he contacted the team last month.

"The Buffalo Bills had no choice but to cut their young punter after so badly botching their response to our claim," Gilleon said. "They ignored us, [when] I warned them would happen could be avoided if they just kept their heads in the sand. This is what enablers do."

Beane said Saturday that he stands by the team's handling of the situation.

"We’re not perfect. But I can tell you, we just tried to do what was right," Beane said. "In our heart of hearts, I can lay my head down at night knowing that I’ve tried to do what’s right."

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