On Thursday evening, the Los Angeles Times published a story saying that a civil lawsuit was filed on Thursday accusing Buffalo Bills’ punter Matt Araiza and two former teammates of rape.
The specific suit says Araiza and two of his San Diego State Aztec teammates gang-raped a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party back in October.
Matt Araiza, who is known as the “Punt God” because of his powerful kicking, allegedly met the victim at a party off-campus and had sex with her outside of the home. He then allegedly brought her back inside the house where she was repeatedly raped as she went in and out of consciousness.
In her lawsuit, the woman, who was a high school senior at the time, said she had already been drinking when she arrived at the party and that “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 Buffalo Bills released a statement quickly following the Los Angeles Times story that said: “We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021. 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.”
Matt Araiza’s lawyer has stated that, although he hasn’t reviewed the complaint yet, the rape accusation is false. He claims to have an investigator who “spoke to witnesses from the party who contradict the allegations against Araiza.”
San Diego State University is also facing criticism that the university was made aware of the rape and decided not to alert the campus community. The campus security officers claim police asked them not to take any action that would compromise the police investigation, but that hasn’t quieted calls for the university to face the consequences of their lack of action.
At this time, no arrests have been made, and the San Diego police have not publicly identified any suspects.
Given that the police investigation itself is ongoing, it’s not a surprise that the Buffalo Bills would withhold from commenting on the situation other than to say they were made aware of it.
It’s likely that the team will wait for official word from the San Diego police before making more public statements. However, the Bills will have also, as they’ve stated, done their own investigation into the incident. Perhaps that investigation will make the Bills question the character of Araiza or feel that there is enough of a possibility that the accusation is true, even if the police decide there is not enough evidence to prosecute.
Given all the time that general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott spend talking about building a winning culture in the locker room, the team could choose to cut Matt Araiza even if there is not enough evidence to bring forth criminal charges.
The San Diego State product won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best collegiate punter and set several NCAA records as a junior this past season, including for the most punts over 50 yards.
However, given the criticism the NFL has faced for botching the handling of the punishment for Deshaun Watson’s multiple sexual assault claims, which we covered in detail here, the league is undoubtedly watching the Buffalo Bills carefully to see how they handle the newest complaint of sexual violence against an NFL player.