Bills release punter Matt Araiza after rape allegations in civil suit | Buffalo Bills News | NFL


The Buffalo Bills decided on Saturday it was untenable to keep rookie gambler Matt Araiza on the list amid explosive allegations that he participated in a gang rape of a then 17-year-old girl in California last fall.

The team announced it has released Araiza just over 48 hours after the public release of a civil suit against him and two of his former San Diego State University teammates.

Discussing the team’s decision Saturday night, a gloomy Bills General Manager Brandon Beane said, “Our culture here is more important than winning football games.”

“The last 48 hours have been very difficult for a lot of people,” Beane said. “It’s been tough. … We sympathize with this whole situation, all parties involved, this young woman, what she went through. Really feel sorry for that whole situation. Ultimately this is a legal situation, we don’t know all the facts and that makes it difficult.

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“But right now,” Beane said, “we just think it’s the best move for everyone to leave Matt and let him sort this situation out and focus on that.”

Beane made it clear that Araiza’s version of events on the night in question was different from what is alleged in the lawsuit. Araiza released a statement through his agent Friday night saying that the “facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit” and that he looked forward to “quickly set the record straight”.

Beane said the team was not aware of any allegations when it chose Araiza in the sixth round of the NFL drawing in late April.

“We didn’t know about this, and the league didn’t know either,” said Beane. “We’ve reached out to double-digit teams, and no one had anything about this. These names were sealed wherever the investigation was at the time. Yeah, if we had this, and we’re getting this kind of stuff from guys, then know you how important character and culture is to Sean (McDermott) and me, and anything that would have stuck, (Araiza) would have been off our plates.”

Less than 24 hours after Bills coach Sean McDermott took the podium after Friday night’s final preseason game and addressed the situation, Araiza was gone.

Beane said the team was not aware of the allegations until the end of July. The attorney for the prosecution in the case, Daniel Gilleon, spoke with Kathryn D’Angelo, the Bills’ assistant general counsel, on July 31. Araiza’s lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, said Friday that he believed Araiza would have told the Bills about the situation soon. after a story appeared in the Los Angeles Times on June 3 about the incident. The story did not include names of players from the state of San Diego. A second story featuring an interview with the prosecution was published on July 29. Armstrong said he was held by Araiza’s parents about six weeks ago.

“We tried not to rush to judgement,” Beane said. “And of course Matt’s version was different. And you want to give everyone as much due process as you can. Again, we are not judges and jury. … “I’d say it’s not easy, you’re trying to put facts around a legal situation, sometimes with limited information, and so ultimately that’s where we are today with a decision.”

The suit was filed in San Diego County Superior Court. No criminal charges have been filed. The San Diego County Attorney’s Office confirmed on Friday that it was reviewing a police investigation into the incident, but did not offer a timeline for a decision.

According to the complaint, the teen, identified as “Jane Doe,” had already been drinking with friends when she arrived at the off-campus house in San Diego and was “perceptibly intoxicated.”

The teen said Araiza, then 21, handed her a drink at the party that she said “contained not only alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,” according to the suit. She also said she told Araiza she was in high school. He then led her to a side yard where he asked her to have oral sex and then had sex with her, the suit said, before leading her inside.

In a bedroom of the house, the suit claims, Araiza and others participated in the rape. The others named in the complaint are Zavier Leonard and Nowlin Ewaliko. Leonard is on the fall roster for the state of San Diego as a freshman red shirt. Ewaliko was on the team last year, but is not on this fall’s roster. Attorneys for Leonard and Ewaliko have not responded.

Practice bills (copy)

Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza in practice on Wednesday.

Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

The suit said she told her friends after the incident and went to the police the next day. Gilleon, her attorney, has released copies of journal entries she wrote after the October 17 attack. According to the complaint, she waited about five hours before an officer approached her. She was then taken to hospital for a rape examination.

When asked if the publication of the 11-page civil lawsuit revealed details he was not aware of, Beane said:

“Well, they were accusations,” Beane said. “It clarified exactly what they were. And at that point it’s a real civil matter. It’s not, this can happen. It’s something you have to respond to, and right now we’re not the judge and jury.”

When asked why the team did not have follow-up conversations with Gilleon after July 31 or attempt to speak to the woman, Beane said:

“I would say we had the boulders of what would be accused or alleged. But it wasn’t a real case at the time. And there was, one of the things you look at is, where is this criminal? You try to find that out. And so we just tried, again, to look at everything. (Any) of those things there, if true, would be a no-go for us. You know what I mean? So we didn’t need any of that. We just had to try and put together as many facts as possible in a limited amount of time.”

Beane added: “All we tried to do was use our resources in the time we had to put the pieces together and figure out what was happening, and Matt was very aware that if something wasn’t was in the air during our trial that we would remove him. When this became a civil matter two days ago, it was very serious in nature and we felt it was in Matt’s best interest.”

Statement from 'Jane Doe' Attorney About Bills' Release of Matt Araiza

“Jane Doe” lawyer thinks the Buffalo Bills made the right decision by releasing punt Matt Araiza on Saturday. However, Dan Gilleon believes the team has taken far too long to come to a decision.

Gilleon was unimpressed by the Bills’ response over the past month. In a statement released to The News, the lawyer said:

“The Buffalo Bills had no choice but to cut their young gambler after they screwed up their response to our claim so badly: they ignored us, as if what I warned them would happen could be avoided if they just bury their heads in the sand. This is what enablers do.

“My client’s life was forever scarred in October 2021, but she treated herself with grace and dignity,” Gilleon said. “Not once has she expressed to me the desire to hurt her attackers out of revenge or hatred. She never asked for a pound of meat. Her only question was the kind of justice that could save other young women from the hell she’s been through.’

The Bills released a statement Thursday saying, in part, “Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we have thoroughly investigated this matter.”

Beane acknowledged: “I mean, as thorough as we can be with what we could get our hands on. We probably should have said underway. It was not completed. We don’t have many things right now, really. This is very serious.”

McDermott said he told Araiza about the team’s decision to release him on Saturday morning: “He seemed to understand. I think when we spoke again this morning he agreed that that was probably for the best.”

The Bills released veteran Matt Haack on Monday, effectively making Araiza the winner of the gambling contest.

“It wasn’t a civil matter,” Beane said. “There was no criminal case. What we had were allegations that could come up and we were still putting it together. Obviously, a civil case was filed 48 hours ago or sometime around that time. We read through that and circled back again with Matt. Again, it’s a lot of things that we can’t close the loop on right now.”

Asked about the decision to cut Haack, who was subsequently picked up by the Indianapolis Colts, Beane said:

“That’s a difficult one. You can guess whether that was the right move. We will certainly look at that if this situation or a similar situation arises.”

Beane said Araiza’s agent was not aware of the allegations until the end of July.

“His agent didn’t know,” Beane said. “Our understanding without going into it is that Matt learned sometime this summer that he was under investigation, and then he hired, I don’t know the date, but I believe he called his attorney sometime around the time we found out.” came.”

Araiza’s agent, Joe Linta, did not answer a news call on Saturday night.

Armstrong, Araiza’s attorney, issued the following statement: “Matt is very upset and disappointed that his career with the Bills ended not because of his bad playing, but because of false accusations leveled against him by a young lady and her lawyer. I hope he’s back in the NFL soon. He deserves it because he’s the hardest working 22-year-old I know.”

Asked again why the allegations were not enough to prompt action against Araiza in early August, Beane said: “We were trying not to rush to judgement. And of course Matt’s version was different. And you want to give everyone as much due process as you can. Again, we are not judges and jury.”

Araiza received a signing bonus of $216,148 upon signing a four-year contract with the Bills that would have been worth a total of $3.8 million. The contract is not guaranteed and he will not receive his 2022 salary from the team due to the release.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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