Buffalo Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza and two others have been accused of gang raping a minor during an off-campus party at San Diego State University last year in a lawsuit filed Thursday in the County of San Diego Superior Court.
The lawsuit alleges that Araiza had sex with a 17-year-old girl outside of an off-campus home, where Araiza lived, and then he brought her into a room where she was repeatedly raped. The plaintiff is identified in the suit as “Jane Doe,” because she was underage at the time, but is now 18, according to the Associated Press.
The two other current and former San Diego State football players named in the complaint are Zavier Leonard, currently on San Diego State’s roster, and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, who is no longer on the team. Araiza became a star punter for the Aztecs as a redshirt junior in 2021, winning the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter ahead of entering the 2022 NFL Draft.
The lawsuit states that the plaintiff had been drinking with friends when they decided to go to the party on Oct. 17 and she was “observably intoxicated upon arrival.” She became separated from her friends and was approached by Araiza, who offered her a drink, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiff believes the drink “not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,” the complaint said.
There have been no arrests made and San Diego Police have not publicly identified any suspects, according to the Associated Press. NFL Media’s attempts to reach San Diego Police and the district attorney’s office were unsuccessful.
A lawyer representing Araiza told the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the lawsuit, on Thursday that he had not yet reviewed the complaint against Araiza, but said that the allegations were false.
“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” the Bills said in a statement on Thursday, obtained by NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. “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.”
The university launched a Title IX investigation into the incident last month, per the Times.
The Bills selected Araiza in the sixth round of the 2022 draft, and earlier this week Araiza won the team’s starting punting job for the upcoming season.
The Bills play the Carolina Panthers in their final preseason game on Friday. Araiza traveled with the team, Giardi confirmed.