ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed Thursday in California that accused Araiza and other San Diego State football players of raping a 17-year-old girl last October.
The lawsuit accuses Araiza, now 22, as well as teammates Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, of committing what the plaintiff’s attorney described as gang rape in the early morning hours of Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021 after a Halloween party.
“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” the Bills said in a statement. “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.”
A lawyer for Araiza told the Los Angeles Times that his investigator spoke to witnesses from the party who contradicted allegations made against Araiza in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that the plaintiff believed Araiza handed her a drink during the party that “not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances.” The lawsuit alleges Araiza took the girl into a bedroom where the other men were standing and threw her to the bed.
The plaintiff “went in and out of consciousness while she was being raped,” the lawsuit said, adding, “The men took turns having sex with her from behind while she lay face first on the mattress.”
The plaintiff also accused the players of filming the incident, which allegedly lasted an hour and a half. When the girl stumbled out of the room, she was bloody and crying, the lawsuit said.
“All of my piercings were ripped out, I was bleeding. It lasted about an hour, maybe a little bit more,” the now-18-year-old woman told Nexstar’s KSWB earlier this month. “I stumbled out of the room and I was crying and I had blood everywhere.” She said she found her friends and “told them I was just raped.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Araiza spoke with the plaintiff on the phone next day while detectives from the San Diego Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit listened to the call. The lawsuit claims Araiza confirmed having sex with the plaintiff, but later changed his tone and said he didn’t remember anything that happened that night.
The Bills drafted Araiza in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He appeared to win the punting job during training camp when the Bills released incumbent punter Matt Haack on Monday. Haack later signed with the Colts.
The Bills play their final preseason game Friday at Carolina.