BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB/WNCN) — Former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza will not face charges stemming from a sexual assault lawsuit that occurred in Oct. 2021, the San Diego District Attorney’s office announced Wednesday.
On Aug. 25, Araiza was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in California, accusing him and other San Diego State University football players, where he went to college, of raping a then-17-year-old girl at a party in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2021.
The Bills released Araiza two days later amid the allegations. He remains unsigned.
“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. Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” the statement read in part.
CBS 17 previously reported the lawsuit accuses Araiza, now 22, as well as San Diego State University teammates Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, of committing what the plaintiff’s attorney described as gang rape.
The lawsuit said that the plaintiff believed Araiza handed her a drink during the party that “not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances.” The lawsuit said Araiza took the girl into a bedroom where the other men were standing and threw her to the bed.
The plaintiff “went in and out of consciousness while she was being raped,” the lawsuit said. “The men took turns having sex with her from behind while she lay face first on the mattress.”
The DA’s office said that they evaluated the case for various potential criminal charges, including statutory rape, forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, rape by intoxication and oral copulation by intoxication.
It said it conducted more than 35 taped witness interviews, examined all evidence, including the results of a Sexual Assault Response Team exam, DNA results as well as evidence from 10 search warrants.
Four terabytes of data were recovered from the search warrants, that included video evidence from the reported incident, the news release said.
“I am never surprised when a prosecutor does not file sexual assault charges when the victim is intoxicated. It’s a very rare case where the criminal justice system achieves anything satisfactory for the victim of a sexual assault,” Dan Gilleon, the accuser’s attorney for the civil case, said in a tweet. “Prosecutors cannot file charges unless they can get a unanimous decision who cannot vote to convict unless they’re convinced beyond any reasonable doubt.”
However, as Gilleon noted, the civil lawsuit is still ongoing.
“It’s a different ball game here. The victim is represented, and the focus is on the harm defendants caused her. It is only in the civil system that a victim of sexual assault can get justice, and we plan to do just that.”
The Bills had drafted Araiza in the sixth round of the NFL draft in the spring.