Months after initial reports of a gang-rape of a minor by San Diego State football players — but just two days after the 2021 incident led to a lawsuit — the NFL's Buffalo Bills released its punter Matt Araiza, ESPN reports. In a statement released Thursday, the team said it "conducted a thorough examination of this matter." Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Saturday that the team probably should have described the examination as "ongoing" because it wasn't completed. In a statement released Friday, Araiza said, "The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight."
Araiza and two former teammates are accused of rape, gender violence and false imprisonment. The lawsuit accuses Araiza, who was 21 at the time, of having sex with a then-17-year-old high school senior, who was under the age of consent in California, outside an off-campus party held at his residence in the early morning of Oct. 17, 2021. The suit states that Araiza then took her inside the home, where at least three other men, including the other two defendants named in the suit — Zavier Leonard, a redshirt freshman with the Aztecs, and Nowlin Ewaliko, who is no longer on the team's roster — were located and that she was repeatedly raped for about an hour and a half. The lawsuit states that nose, belly button and ear piercings were pulled out during the acts and that she was bleeding from her vagina. Beane portrayed the team's action toward Araiza as an attempt not to engage in a "rush to judgment." "With the serious nature and allegations, and we just can't, we don't have the means to put all the facts together," Beane said. "There's multiple versions of what happened, and [Sean McDermott's] a football coach, I'm a GM. We don't have access to everything, and so that's more important than playing football. And so, we want Matt to focus on that."