NFL punter Matt Araiza released from Buffalo Bills amid sex assault allegation in San Diego

The Buffalo Bills announced Saturday that they were releasing punter Matt Araiza from the team, two days after a civil lawsuit accused him and two other former San Diego State University football players of killing a 17-year-old girl in an off- campus party

Araiza, 22, whose powerful and precise kicks earned him the nickname “Punt God” in college, was accused of taking the teenager into a room during the party where she was repeatedly raped.

The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, alleges that the then high school senior passed out and passed out, but recalls moments when the men took turns assaulting her.

The Times reported on the allegations on Thursday.

The other men named in the complaint are Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko. Leonard was previously listed as a redshirt freshman on the university’s fall football roster, but the university said in a statement Saturday that he is no longer on the team. Ewaliko was a newcomer to the team last year but is not on the current list.

In an interview with the Times on Thursday, Araiza’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, said he had not reviewed the complaint but called the rape allegation false.

He said his investigator spoke to party witnesses who disagree with the allegations against Araiza.

“It’s a shakedown because he’s with the Buffalo Bills now,” Armstrong said, adding, “I have no doubt” that Araiza did not rape the teen.

Araiza’s name appeared in at least one report related to the rape allegation that student-athletes submitted to San Diego State officials through an anonymous campus reporting system within days of the party.

According to the lawsuit, the teenager Araiza said she was a high school student and although he could see she was heavily intoxicated, he asked her to perform oral sex and then had sex with her. Araiza then took her to a bedroom where Leonard, Ewaliko and at least one other man were, the complaint said, and threw her face first on the bed. The lawsuit said she was raped for an hour and a half before the party shut down.

The San Diego Police Department has not publicly identified suspects or released basic details about the criminal investigation, which has been turned over to prosecutors to determine if charges will be filed.

The latest developments come as San Diego State continues to face criticism after a Times investigation found the university chose not to tell the campus community about the alleged gang rape and waited more than seven months to conduct its own investigation to initiate

Campus officials said police have asked them not to take any action that would jeopardize their investigations and that federal law does not require them to send out a crime notification. Following the Times report, San Diego state officials began posting some information about the incident on a campus website in October.

Campus officials said they asked San Diego police to provide the victim with the information, but did not respond to repeated questions from the Times about why campus police did not provide that information directly to the victim’s father.

The teen has publicly criticized the city police department’s handling of her case, which she believed had stalled after the New Year, and the inaction of San Diego State. Her father, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity, said he shared his daughter’s account with campus police three days after the party, but was never given any information for the investigation or the Title IX complaints process.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-27/nfl-punter-matt-araiza-released-from-buffalo-bill-amid-sex-assault-allegation-in-san-diego NFL punter Matt Araiza released from Buffalo Bills amid sex assault allegation in San Diego

Alley Einstein

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