BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Officials from San Diego State University (SDSU) are speaking out Monday after a civil lawsuit accused three of their former players of raping a 17-year-old girl in October 2021. This lawsuit includes former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza.
According to his civil defense attorney, Araiza is back in San Diego after being cut by the Bills on Saturday. SDSU Athletics say no one is above the law and they support the investigation by local law enforcement.
These comments come as Araiza’s accuser, who is referred to as Jane Doe in the civil lawsuit, spoke on CBS Evening News.
“I was having to deal with this horrible traumatic experience that I never asked for…” Doe said.
The lawsuit accuses Araiza, now 22, of raping the 17-year-old girl with two San Diego State University teammates following a Halloween party at what is stated to have been Araiza’s home in the early morning hours of October 17, 2021.
According to an email from Dan Gilleon, Doe’s attorney, the Bills were made aware of the allegations as recently as late July, indicating that they knew about the accusations when they cut punter Matt Haack earlier this week, clearing the way for Araiza to be the team’s starting punter.
Araiza has retained a criminal defense attorney, who says he was not in the back bedroom that night.
“Mr. Araiza never went inside that bedroom that night,” Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s criminal defense attorney, said.
San Diego police turned over evidence to the District Attorney’s office, who will decide if criminal charges should be filed. Armstrong says that decision could be made within four to six weeks.
No criminal charges have been filed against Araiza. A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office in San Diego County said the police department submitted an investigation and that it is currently under review.
The San Diego State Athletic Director JD Wicker says his department provides sexual violence and bystander training to student athletes.
“One of our pillars is to create great human beings and… it’s hard when the training you provide may not have been enough,” Wicker said in a press conference Monday.
Wicker and Aztecs Head Coach Brady Hoke spoke together for almost 10 minutes at the press conference before walking out of the media room. Wicker later returned to take questions about the alleged incident. He said once the department heard about about the alleged incident, it decided to provide additional mandatory sexual violence training to student athletes on November 28 and 29.
“Based on what we had heard from the alleged event, we wanted to bring in enhanced training for our student athletes,” Wicker said.
Araiza’s attorney said his client and defense witnesses claim they were not intoxicated at the party.
“Witnesses who my private investigator has spoken to have all said they just weren’t drinking that much that night. I’m not saying they weren’t drinking, I’m just saying I don’t think anybody there was really that intoxicated at all and I don’t think the young lady was either based on everything I’ve read,” Armstrong said.
Araiza’s attorney called this a “money grab” and a “shakedown”, despite the accuser saying she did not know who Araiza was.
“Well, I know she knew who Mr. Araiza was because she told him, ‘I know who you are.’ and she made another statement which will come out eventually that is very defense friendly, I’ll put it that way,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong would not go into great detail about the defense witnesses. According to the lawsuit, Doe never met Araiza before the party.
“That makes me really sick to my stomach. I reported it the day after it happened. I was 17-years-old and I had no idea who Matt Araiza was,” Doe said.
News 4 obtained a statement by the Araiza Family, which was released Monday evening.
The rule of law is innocent until proven guilty. That is not our experience. There has been war waged on our son. He has been tried and convicted in the media based on information released solely from the alleged victim and her attorney, much of it through social media. People have taken his information as factual, when it is not.
We do not with this experience on anyone, but question why our son is the only one receiving this kind of treatment by social media and national news media. The vitriol has been on him alone.
He has been extorted, discriminated against, harassed and the subject of multiple and continuous threats of violence and death. He has been released from his job and our entire family continues to receive horrific threats of violence and death. We have all been canceled. Every member of our family.
Salacious rumors grew as fact. There are multiple witness reports to deny the claims that are made against him. The legal system is designed to find the facts and make decisions. They should be allowed to do that.”Statement from Mr. and Mrs. Araiza, parents of Matt Araiza
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.