Matt Araiza, a rookie punter for the Buffalo Bills who was charged on Thursday with gang rape while attending San Diego State last year, did not show up for Friday night’s 21-0 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers.
After the game, coach Sean McDermott said that it was his call to have Araiza sit.
McDermott declined to elaborate on what the organization already knew, the extent of the team’s research. Or if he believed Araiza had lied to him and the team. He claimed to have acquired “some” new information in the recent 24 hours concerning Araiza and that he hadn’t slept much.
I won’t dispute that, but I would say there has been some [new material in the past 24 hours]. And for that reason, I still have work to do on this, McDermott added. “Right now, I’m trying to focus more on finding solutions. And I’m moving in that direction. And that’s the direction we ought to be going.”
According to McDermott, the team’s top priority is to “discover the truth and do the right thing.”
Araiza stated in a statement made public during the game. “The incident’s circumstances are not what the lawsuit or the media have reported. I’m looking forward to quickly clear the air.”
Araiza made a remark, which McDermott acknowledged knowledge of, but he chose not to comment on in detail.
Araiza did travel with the team to Charlotte, North Carolina. But he was not visible on the sidelines at any point during the game on Friday or in the locker room afterward. Araiza would be returning to Buffalo with the team on Friday night, according to McDermott.
When clubs must reduce rosters to 53 players on Tuesday. McDermott remained silent over whether Araiza will be on the Bills’ roster.
Since the Bills released Matt Haack on Monday, Matt Araiza is the lone punter on the roster and he has the starting role. In place of the Bills’ regular punter versus Carolina, backup quarterback Matt Barkley averaged 40 yards on four kicks, including a 53-yarder.
Araiza and two of his former San Diego State teammates are facing rape charges, gender assault, and false detention. It was filed in San Diego County Superior Court and obtained by ESPN.
In the early hours of October 17, 2021, Araiza, who was 21 at the time and under California’s legal age of consent, allegedly had sex outside with the then-high school senior at his home at an off-campus party. The two other males identified in the action — are Zavier Leonard, an Aztecs redshirt freshman, and Nowlin Ewaliko. A freshman last season but no longer listed on the roster — are among the other men who were in the room where Araiza allegedly brought the woman. According to the lawsuit she was allegedly raped repeatedly for approximately an hour and a half until the party ended.
The civil lawsuit’s initiator, Dan Gilleon, told ESPN that he last emailed the Bills’ legal counsel at the end of July to inform them of the claims.
Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s criminal attorney, told ESPN that although his client spoke to the girl at the party, the rape claims are “simply wrong.”
The Bills said in a statement late on Thursday that they “got information that Matt Araiza was the subject of a civil lawsuit from October 2021. We thoroughly investigated this situation because the complaint was so serious. We won’t have any more comments at this time because this is a civil lawsuit that is still pending.”
Armstrong claimed that Araiza did not inform the Buffalo Bills of the charges until early June. When the Los Angeles Times revealed that San Diego State had not looked into rape claims against five football players. According to the university, the San Diego Police Department requested that the school refrain from taking any action so as not to obstruct their investigation into the incident.
McDermott remarked, “[I’m] not going to get into who Matt is, his character, and all that kind of stuff. “Now, I don’t believe that’s appropriate. I can assure you that the folks involved are in my heart’s and prayers thoughts. And that includes Matt, both parties involved in this case, the victim, and everyone else. We offer them our prayers.”
The NFL acknowledged the event on Thursday but chose not to respond. Since the alleged rape took place before the selection of Araiza. The league’s personal conduct rules would not apply to him.
After three seasons in San Diego, The Buffalo Bills took Araiza in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Read more About Cowboys rally for a 27-26 victory