Former San Diego State star punter and Buffalo Bills draft pick Matt Araiza will not be charged with a crime after a civil lawsuit was filed in California earlier this year accusing him of rape, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. The punter was accused of taking part in the gang rape of a girl who was just 17 at the time, but the District Attorney announced Wednesday no charges would be filed.
"Ultimately, prosecutors determined it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges and there is no path to a potential criminal conviction," the DA's office said in a statement. "Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."
After the verdict, Araiza released a statement through his agency, JL Sports:
"I am grateful that the District Attorney and the San Diego Police Department have discovered all the facts and found no criminal wrongdoing. I am excited to continue my NFL career."
Araiza was one of three men named in the, along with former San Diego State teammates Zavier Leonard and Nowlin "Pa'a" Ewaliko. Leonard and Ewaliko avoided charges as well. While three men were named in the suit, the girl believes she may have been raped by as many as 20 men.
Araiza's lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, denied all allegations, and even insinuated the accuser was going after Araiza's money. He also said his investigator spoke to witnesses from the party where the alleged incident occurred, who told a different story from the woman.
"It's a shakedown because he's now with the Buffalo Bills," Armstrong said, via the Los Angeles Times. "There is no doubt in my mind that Matt Araiza [never] raped that girl."
Araiza himself said the details in the lawsuit were inaccurate, and that he looked forward to setting the record straight.
Attorney Dan Gilleon, who represents the alleged victim, offered his take.
"I'm not surprised," Gilleonsaid, per The Athletic. "The police rarely pay much attention to cases where the victim is intoxicated. Here, the police made it clear in January 2022 that they weren't interested in the case. They made that clear by ghosting my client and keeping her in the dark. It was only the media attention that caused the police to commence a dog and pony show long enough for them to say they conducted a thorough investigation."
The Bills made the decision to release their sixth-round pick after the civil suit was filed in August. General manager Brandon Beane said at the time that the team struggled to get answers about Araiza's situation, per ESPN, and that this was "bigger than football." Now, he has been cleared.