Araiza, 2 SDSU teammates accused of gang rape in civil swimsuit


SAN DIEGO (AP) — Matt Araiza, the “Punt God” who led San Diego State to a record-setting season earlier than being drafted by the Buffalo Bills, and two of his former Aztecs teammates have been accused in a civil lawsuit Thursday of gang-raping an adolescent at an off-campus occasion final fall.

The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, accuses Araiza, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko of gang-raping a then-17-year-old lady at a Halloween occasion at a house the place Araiza had been residing.

The plaintiff, now 18, is recognized within the grievance as “Jane Doe” as a result of she was underage on the time.

No arrests have been made and San Diego Police haven’t publicly recognized any suspects.

Leonard is listed on San Diego State’s roster as a redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Arlington, Texas. Ewaliko shouldn’t be listed on this yr’s roster, however was on the 2021 roster as a defensive lineman from Seattle.

The lawsuit states that the teenager had been ingesting with buddies once they determined to go to the occasion on Oct. 17 and he or she was “observably intoxicated upon arrival.” She grew to become separated from her buddies and was approached by Araiza who provided her a drink, in line with the lawsuit. She believes the drink “not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,” the grievance mentioned.

She informed Araiza, who was 21 on the time, that she was a highschool senior, in line with the lawsuit. She alleges he then led her to a facet yard the place he requested her to carry out oral intercourse after which had intercourse along with her earlier than taking her to a bed room within the residence. There have been a minimum of three different males within the room, together with Leonard and Ewaliko, in line with the grievance. The lawsuit states that Araiza threw the teenager onto the mattress face first as she went out and in of consciousness whereas she was being raped. It added, “but she does remember some moments from the horrific gang rape.”

After an hour-and-a-half, the teenager “stumbled out of the room bloody and crying,” in line with the grievance. Her nostril, stomach button, and ear piercings had been pulled out.

She instantly informed her buddies in regards to the rape and the subsequent day reported it to police and underwent a rape examination, in line with the lawsuit. Officers coached her on calling Araiza, which she did 10 days later as detectives recorded it, in line with the grievance.

During the decision, Araiza confirmed having intercourse along with her, the lawsuit states, however when she requested him “And did we have actual sex?” he responded “This is Matt Araiza. I don’t remember anything that happened that night” and hung up.

“This was a horrific crime, the kind of which happens all too often,” lawyer Dan Gilleon mentioned in a press release to the AP. Gilleon mentioned this case is particularly egregious as a result of it not solely concerned “self-entitled athletes,” however a number of organizations from the college to the Buffalo Bills “have acted the part of enablers looking the other way in denial that my client deserves justice even if the defendants are prized athletes.”

The Los Angeles Times first reported the lawsuit.

Attorney Kerry Armstrong, who represents Araiza within the legal investigation, referred to as the allegations unfaithful primarily based on the findings of an investigator he employed.

“I 100% do not believe that he ever forcibly raped this girl or had sex with her while she was passed out or drunk or anything like that,” Armstrong informed the AP. “It’s unfortunate that she’s filed a civil suit. I think it’s a cash grab.”

Armstrong mentioned the Bills have been conscious of the allegations and investigation of Araiza earlier than the lawsuit was filed as a result of he supplied the workforce updates since he was retained by the punter about six weeks in the past.

“Matt Araiza’s very upset about this, as you can imagine. He’s very disappointed,” Armstrong mentioned. “But he’s going to get his day in court eventually.”

Armstrong mentioned he’s been knowledgeable police have all however accomplished their legal investigation, which is able to then be reviewed by the district lawyer to find out whether or not to file prices.

Marc Xavier Carlos, who’s representing Ewaliko in an ongoing legal investigation, and Jamahl Kersey, representing Leonard, informed the Times they might not remark.

The lawsuit comes days after the Bills cleared the best way for Araiza to take over the punting duties by releasing returning veteran Matt Haack. Buffalo drafted Araiza within the sixth spherical due to his booming left leg.

The 22-year-old Araiza, who attended San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo High, was SDSU’s most recognizable participant throughout a school-record 12-2 season that netted a No. 25 rating within the last AP Top 25 ballot. He routinely flipped the sphere along with his jaw-dropping punts and set an NCAA file with a 51.19-yard common. He gained the Ray Guy Award and was a first-team AP All-American.

“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” the Bills mentioned in a press release. “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 Bills traveled to Carolina for his or her exhibition finale on the Panthers on Friday night time. It’s unclear whether or not Araiza will play towards the Panthers, although the Bills haven’t any different punter on their roster. Haack has since signed with the Indianapolis Colts.


AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo contributed to this report.


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