Both Sides Drop Lawsuits in Bills' Ex-Punter Rape Allegation

Plaintiff drops complaint against Matt Araiza; his attorneys say he plans to return to NFL
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2023 7:25 AM CST
Rape Suit Dropped Against Ex-Bills Punter
Matt Araiza walks on the sideline during the first half of a preseason NFL football game of the Buffalo Bills against the Indianapolis Colts in Orchard Park, New York, on Aug. 13, 2022.   (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

A lawsuit against former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza accusing him of sexual assault has been dropped. Per TMZ, the civil complaint had alleged the now-23-year-old free agent, along with two of his teammates at San Diego State, had raped a 17-year-old at a 2021 off-campus Halloween party in Southern California, which Araiza has denied (he admits to having had sex with the plaintiff but says it was consensual). ESPN reports that the plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe, agreed to drop her 2022 suit, while Araiza also agreed to drop his defamation suit filed over the summer against her.

In December, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office said it wouldn't be pursuing criminal charges against Araiza, per the AP. Citing witness testimony, prosecutors say Araiza had left the party by the time the alleged gang rape occurred. They also noted they couldn't prove there'd been awareness of the plaintiff's age or how intoxicated she'd been; the plaintiff claims she was too drunk to consent to sex with anyone that night. "She has been beat down by Araiza's PR campaign and is frankly over it," the plaintiff's attorney said in a text, adding that his client "simply cannot afford to defend herself," per the San Diego Union-Tribune. The lawsuit may still proceed against four other ex-San Diego State players.

Attorneys for Araiza, who was cut by the Bills soon after the suit was filed, said Tuesday that the development, which doesn't call for Araiza to pay out any money, is "bittersweet." "Matt has been forced to defend himself for the last 16 months against false accusations and a campaign to ruin his career in the NFL," the lawyers noted in a statement. "He will never get this time in his life back." The statement adds that Araiza retains the right to sue the plaintiff's attorney for harm caused. The lawyers say the player "now has the full intention of returning to the NFL in hopes of ... resuming a successful punting career," per TMZ. (More football player stories.)

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