Matt Araiza Accused of Rape and Dropped from the Buffalo Bills
Araiza, former punter for the Buffalo Bills
Photo from CNN Sports, 2022
TW: This article mentions details of sexual assault that some readers may find disturbing. Resources can be found at the bottom of the story.
On August 27th, 2022, after having previously notified the team, Dan Gilleon, the lawyer of an anonymous victim, filed a sexual assault claim against Matt Araiza, the punter for the Buffalo Bills.
Gilleon’s client claimed Araiza along with two of his former teammates from UCSD, where he had been a punter, had raped her.
Two days after the assault claim was filed the Buffalo Bills dropped Araiza.
The Manager for the Buffalo Bills, Brandon Beane said in a statement that “our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games.”
The anonymous survivor told her lawyer that she was 17 years-old at the time she was gang raped at a off-campus Halloween party on October 17, 2021 hosted by USDC students.
At the time Araiza was 21 years old and the two other teammates, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin Ewaliko, were 18.
Araiza has continued to deny any involvement. Araiza’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, released several statements, some of which stated the suit is a “money grab” and that Araiza “is 100% adamant that he never forcibly raped this young lady or forcibly had sex with her in any type of way.”
Leonard’s attorney, Jahmal Kersey, declined to comment about the accusations. Ewaliko’s attorney, Marc Carlos, told ABC News that his client denies all allegations.
Matt Araiza was a successful Punter for the University of California, San Diego who was drafted in the 6th round in April, 2022 by the Buffalo Bills. He got a $4 million contract.
Gilleon told sources he informed the Buffalo Bills management of the claim in July of 2022.
In a private interview with ABC News Nightline the plaintiff stated that she threw up several times the night of the draft.
"I reported it right away and I was giving all my evidence to authorities and just to see him continuing on and thriving while I felt like my life was completely torn apart," She stated.
In her Nightline interview she went on to say that she reported the attack to police the day after it happened. She shared photos of her bruised neck and legs as well as her bloody underwear with ABC News.
She told the police that Araiza had given her a drink outside and led her into a room where there were other men. Arazia, Ewaliko, and Leonard, the three men in the room, started to sexually assault her. She said she was screaming and crying the whole time.
When she took a rape kit, she wasn’t even sure who had done this to her. Through eye witness accounts she was able to collect names.
Later, with detectives by her side, she called Araiza, pretending to be clueless about what happened that night and seeing if she should get tested for STDs.
He told her she had performed oral sex on him and that she should get tested for chlamydia. Then when she asked if they had sex his whole demenior changed and he hung up soon after.
As of this reporting there have been no charges filed against these men.
The police continued to investigate but have sent the case to the District Attorney’s office to be reviewed for potential charges.
If you or someone you love has been affected by sexual assault there are resources avalible.
For the National Sexual Assault Hotline call (1-800-656-4673) and visit rainn.org for 24/7 online chatting and alternate resources.