'Frustrating': Outrage after no charges filed against ex-Bills punter Matt Araiza in 2021 gang rape of teen
Warning: This article contains information about child sexual assault that could be triggering to some readers. Discretion is advised.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: Former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza will not face criminal charges despite being accused of being a part of a gang rape of a minor in 2021. The accusations first surfaced in August 2022 when a teenager alleged that she was raped by Araiza and his other two teammates at an off-campus Halloween party on October 16, 2021. The plaintiff, now 18, has been identified in the complaint as 'Jane Doe' because she was underage at the time.
The San Diego County District Attorney's Office announced its decision Wednesday, December 7, 2022, stating that "prosecutors determined it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges," according to Daily Mail. "There is no path to a potential criminal conviction," read the DA's statement. Dan Gilleon, who is representing the plaintiff, accused the DA's office of dismissing the claims as she was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
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The defendants named in the lawsuit include former Aztec punter Matt Araiza, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills, Zavier Leonard, who is currently removed from the Aztecs team, and Nowlin 'Pa'a' Ewaliko, a former member of the San Diego State team. Also named as a defendant is SLJ, LLC, the landlord-owner of the house where the alleged rape took place. "I am never surprised when a prosecutor does not file sexual assault charges when the victim was intoxicated," Gilleon's statement began. "It's a very rare case where the criminal justice system achieves anything satisfactory for the victim in a sexual assault," it further read.
Gilleon indicated that he and his client are still proceeding with their lawsuit against Araiza and the other defendants accused. "The lawsuit we filed is not in the criminal justice system," he said, adding, "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 achieve justice, and we plan to do just that."
According to the lawsuit, the teen had been drinking with friends when they decided to go to the party on October 17. She was "observably intoxicated upon arrival," reported a source. Jane Doe was then separated from her friends and was approached by the former Bills player Araiza.
He offered her a drink that she believes "not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances," the complaint read. Araiza asked her to perform oral sex and the two later had sex. He then led her into a bedroom with at least three other men, including Leonard and Ewaliko, claiming the lawsuit where the teenager “went in and out of consciousness while she was being raped." About an hour and a half later, the teen "stumbled out of the room bloody and crying," according to the complaint.
The victim reportedly suffered severe injuries and bruises in the act where her nose, belly button, and ear piercings had been pulled out, MEAWW previously reported. She told her friends about the rape the next day and reported it to the police and underwent a rape exam.
Officers coached her on calling Araiza, which she did 10 days later as detectives recorded it, according to the complaint. During the call, Araiza acknowledged having sex with her and asked her to get tested for chlamydia, according to the filing. But when she asked 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. After news broke out that Araiza will not be facing criminal charges, netizens caused an uproar on social media.
A user wrote on Twitter, "Just means insufficient evidence to charge him, doesn’t mean he didn’t do it." "The Matt Araiza verdict feels very corrupt to me. How can you openly admit to sleeping with a minor with no consequences? Frustrating," said another user.
"I want everyone to remember when reading about Matt Araiza, that there are a LOT of terrible people who are never caught for committing heinous acts against women. Just because this guy, or Watson, weren't charged criminally, does NOT in any way mean they're innocent. #BillsMafia," read a tweet.
"When you realize that this statement never once said he was innocent. It's just a civil case," noted a user. "Matt Araiza isn't be charged. Doesn't mean he didn't do it. Rape is the most difficult charge to prove. Please don't tear this girl apart unless you were there. This is why women often don't speak up," read a tweet.
just means insufficient evidence to charge him, doesn’t mean he didn’t do it 👍🏻— riley (@YoungBruffBoy) December 8, 2022
When you realize that this statement never once said he was innocent. It's just a civil case— Cody (@Pantherfan_53) December 8, 2022
I want everyone to remember when reading about Matt Araiza, that there are a LOT of terrible people who are never caught for committing heinous acts against women. Just because this guy, or Watson, weren't charged criminally, does NOT in any way mean they're innocent. #BillsMafia— Link Football Focus (@Linkage4890) December 8, 2022
Matt Araiza isn't be charged. Doesn't mean he didn't do it. Rape is the most difficult charge to prove. Please don't tear this girl apart unless you were there. This is why women often don't speak up.— Shaun Dias (@scarbados) December 7, 2022
The Matt Araiza verdict feels very corrupt to me. How can you openly admit to sleeping with a minor with no consequences? Frustrating.— MMG (@PapaMeagzz) December 8, 2022
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