In August of last year, shortly after being appointed as the starting punter for the Buffalo Bills, rookie Matt Araiza was accused in a civil lawsuit of participating in a gang rape of a 17-year-old girl who was intoxicated, along with two of his San Diego State football teammates.
San Diego Police had already spent close to a year investigating the matter before passing it on to the district attorney’s office without a recommendation for prosecution. However, the disturbing details of the lawsuit, which claimed that Araiza led the girl into a bedroom where “at least three other men” were waiting during a party near the SDSU campus on October 15, 2021, sparked widespread public outcry.
Araiza, along with two SDSU teammates, was accused of gang raping a girl under the age of consent in California at an off-campus party in 2021. The incident was reported to the authorities by the accuser, who was then 17 years old, the day after the alleged rape.
Araiza denied the accusations, and his lawyer dismissed them as a “money grab” by the accuser. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office did not file criminal charges against Araiza or the other two teammates after determining that the evidence did not support the filing of criminal charges or lead to a potential criminal conviction.
“Once inside, Araiza threw [the girl] onto the bed face first,” the lawsuit claimed. “[The girl] went in and in and out of consciousness while” suffering through “the horrific gang rape.” It lasted an hour and a half, the lawsuit read, before she “stumbled out of the room bloody and crying” in part because “multiple piercings had ripped through the skin during the attack.”
According to the district attorney’s office, however, based on witness statements and other information, Araiza could not have been involved in the incident as he had left the party around 12:30 a.m., which was about 30 minutes before the first of approximately nine short videos of the alleged encounter.
Yahoo Sports wrote:
A fuller picture of what police and prosecutors found, however, is now available via a 200-plus page transcript of a 100-minute meeting obtained by Yahoo Sports where a deputy district attorney offered a detailed explanation to the girl and her attorneys.
Perhaps most notably, the district attorney’s office concluded Araiza couldn’t have led the girl into the alleged gang rape because he had “left” the home at about 12:30 a.m., an hour prior to when evidence suggested the alleged gang rape would have occurred.
“He wasn’t even at the party anymore,” deputy district attorney Trisha Amador explained to the girl. Later Amador stated of the timeline of events, “All I know is that at that point, suspect Araiza is gone from the party.”
Additionally, prosecutors told the girl that video recordings of the incident in the bedroom made it impossible to determine, let alone prosecute anyone, on whether there was a gang rape at all that night, rather than consensual sex with the other men.
“In looking at the videos on the sex tape, I absolutely cannot prove any forceable sexual assault based upon what happened,” Amador said.
The videos, each less than 10 seconds long, do not show Araiza. Before announcing their decision not to file criminal charges, the district attorney’s office met with the accuser and her attorney to discuss their decision. However, the accuser’s attorney disputed the credibility of the witness, whom they referred to as a “buddy.”
I really hope your apology and retraction is just as loud and passionate as your condemnation of Matt Araiza's supposed actions @stephenasmith and @MollyQerim. You should have probably been aware that the San Diego DA refused to prosecute, because there's video evidence,and… pic.twitter.com/8crEuXQHJ1
— Mr. God (@JamesJett45) May 9, 2023
During his time at SDSU, he was named a mid-season All-American by ESPN by his junior year. He broke the NCAA record for punt average, with 51.19 yards per punt, and won the Ray Guy Award for best punter in the country. He was also named a unanimous All-American, making him the second player in Aztecs history to achieve this honor. Following the season, he announced his decision to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2022 NFL Draft.
Araiza was picked by the Buffalo Bills in the 2022 NFL Draft, selected in the sixth round with the 180th overall pick. He was the third punter to be drafted that year. Upon joining the team as a rookie, he was named the starting punter after veteran Matt Haack was released.
However, Araiza did not participate in the Bills’ final preseason game on August 26, 2022, which came shortly after a lawsuit alleging that he and two former SDSU teammates had committed rape became public. The day after the news broke, on August 27, Araiza was released by the team. The Bills revealed that they had been made aware of the allegations against Araiza back in July, shortly after he was drafted.