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NFL star faces gang rape accusations

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Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza has been named in a sexual assault lawsuit

Buffalo Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza and two other men have been named in a lawsuit filed in San Diego County Superior Court in which they are accused of the gang-rape of a 17-year-old girl last year.

Per ESPN, Araiza and two of his former teammates at collegiate team the San Diego State Aztecs, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin Ewaliko, are accused of the rape, false imprisonment and gender violence towards the teenager.

Araiza, who was 21 at the time of the incident, is accused of having sexual intercourse with the girl, who was in high school at the time and was under the age of consent in California, at a party in his residence on October 17 last year. 

The lawsuit claims that Araiza subsequently brought her to another room on the property where at least three other men were waiting, two of whom were Leonard and Ewaliko, where she was subjected to a prolonged sexual assault.

Araiza, who was nicknamed ‘Punt God’ in college due to his ability to kick an American football more than 70 yards, was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft – with the team said to have been made aware of the allegations against the player in late July.

The Bills opted to keep Araiza on their roster, and released his only competition in the squad, Matt Haack, earlier this week. Typically, NFL teams carry just one punter on their 53-man roster.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Bills stated that they “were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021. 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.”

As I mentioned in a previous tweet, some of the allegations against #punter Matt Araiza and two other players are disturbing. Among them, that he admitted to having an STD during call w/ alleged victim (& detectives observing). Be forewarned, these are graphic. @news4buffalo pic.twitter.com/6nGsFk3KGR

— Dave Greber (@DaveGreber4) August 26, 2022

The NFL also stated that it was aware of the allegations. However, because the incident took place before Araiza was an NFL player, he would not be subject to the terms of the league’s personal conduct policy.

This policy was recently used to hand Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson an 11-game suspension after he was found to have engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with a host of massage therapists. 

Dan Gilleon, the attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the teenager, said that the incident was a “horrific crime, the kind of which happens all too often”.

He added: “What makes these crimes different is not only that they were committed by self-entitled athletes. Just as awful as the crimes, for months, multiple organizations – SDSU, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego District Attorney, and now 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.

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The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claims in the lawsuit that she repeatedly went in and out of consciousness while the men took turns to attack her, and added that her earrings, nose piercing and belly button piercing were ripped from her body during the assault.

She also claims that a drink handed to her by Araiza may have contained non-alcohol based “intoxicating substances”.

She was also left bleeding from her genitalia. 

Kerry Armstrong, the criminal attorney representing Araiza, said that the accusations were little more than a “shakedown” designed to procure money from him now that he is a highly-paid NFL player.

It was also alleged in the lawsuit that Araiza told the Sex Crimes Unit of the San Diego Police Department that the girl should be tested for STDs after admitting that they had sex – but later recanted and said he did not remember anything from the night in question.

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