Ex-NFL Punter Won't Be Charged in Alleged Gang Rape

But Matt Araiza is still named in accuser's civil lawsuit
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2022 6:25 AM CDT
Updated Dec 8, 2022 12:46 AM CST
Woman: Gang Rape Involving Ex-NFL Punter Left Me Bloodied
Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza walks on the sideline during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Orchard Park, NY., on Aug. 13, 2022.   (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)
UPDATE Dec 8, 2022 12:46 AM CST

A former Buffalo Bills punter won't be criminally charged in connection with the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party near San Diego State University when Matt Araiza was a student and football player there last year. None of his former SDSU teammates who are also accused in the alleged assault will be charged either, prosecutors say. "Ultimately, prosecutors determined it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges and there is no path to a potential criminal conviction. Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," the DA's office said in a statement cited by the AP. Araiza and his former teammates are still named in the alleged victim's civil lawsuit, and her attorney says "the defendants will have no sympathizers once the evidence comes out" in that.

Sep 2, 2022 6:25 AM CDT

Matt Araiza, dubbed the "Punt God" after an 82-yard punt kick in his debut with the Buffalo Bills, was let go by the team last week after he was accused in a civil lawsuit of participating in a gang rape. "Our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games," team general manager Brandon Beane said Saturday in explaining the decision, per CNN, which notes the team first learned about the allegation in July. Now the woman who claims she was raped by 21-year-old Araiza and 18-year-old San Diego State football players Zavier Leonard and Nowlin Ewaliko at an off-campus Halloween party at San Diego State University on Oct. 17 is speaking out, telling ABC's Nightline that she screamed and cried as the men took turns having sex with her.

"I can't stop thinking about it," says the woman, who was a 17-year-old high school student at the time. She says she was intoxicated and doesn't remember everything that happened that night, but recalls certain events "like they were just yesterday." She says Araiza gave her a drink, then took her outside, where he asked her to perform oral sex, and later had sex with her without her consent. She says she was then led into a bedroom with "several guys already in there." She says she was violently gang raped and had piercings ripped out. She also shared photos of her bloody underwear and bruises around her neck, adding, "I feel like it should be clear to anybody that that's not consensual sex."

She visited a hospital and filed a police report the next morning, despite not knowing the names of her alleged attackers. Detectives arranged recorded calls with men believed to be in the bedroom. During one, Araiza "told me that we had hooked up and he told me that I should get tested for chlamydia," the woman says. When she asked if they had sex, "his tone completely changed," he denied it, then hung up. Araiza denies that he "forcibly had sex with her in any type of way," according to his attorney, who calls the suit a "money grab." The alleged victim tells CBS News she had "no idea who Matt Araiza was." He was drafted in April. In early August, the case was referred to the San Diego District Attorney's office, which says it "remains under review ... for potential criminal charges." (Read more gang rape stories.)

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