Former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza is speaking out after a report this week revealed new details about the sexual assault allegations he faces.
Araiza is the subject of a civil lawsuit alleging that when he was 21 and a student at San Diego State University, he forced a 17-year-old girl to have sex at an off-campus party even though he knew she was underage and intoxicated, the New York Times reported. The accuser also claimed that Araiza later led her to a bedroom, where she claimed she was raped by two of his teammates.
Araiza, who was released from the Bills last August after reports of a civil lawsuit filed against him went public, spoke out on the report on Tuesday, thanking investigators and asserting his innocence.
“I am aware that the facts of this case have been made public,” Araiza said in a statement to Pro Football Talk. “I am deeply gratified for the thorough work of the DA’s office in San Diego and for all the witnesses that were willing to come forward and tell the truth. I am thankful that the facts of this case as provided by the witnesses will prove that what I have been saying from the beginning is, in fact, the truth.”
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced in December 2022 that neither Araiza nor his teammates would face criminal charges, ESPN reported. Araiza still faces a civil lawsuit.
Matt Araiza Opens Up on ‘Dark Eight Months’
In his statement, Araiza said he hopes people will assess him on the facts and not what he said was “falsely claimed in both the civil suit and in the press.” He also thanked friends and family for their support through a difficult time, saying he has received support from people across the country.
“I am beyond thankful for the unwavering support of both my family and friends,” Araiza said in the statement. “They have been a rock in what has been a very dark eight months for me. However, now that the truth is out, I am amazed by the thousands of emails and tweets supporting me. It has truly been a blessing to know so many people have now judged me by the facts.”
Bills Cut Ties With Sixth-Round Draft Pick
Araiza appeared to have secured the starting job in Buffalo last summer prior to the allegations coming to light. The Bills released veteran punter Matt Haack in the preseason, leaving the sixth-round pick Araiza as the sole remaining punter on the roster.
But after reports of the lawsuit emerged on August 25, the Bills released Araiza and later signed punter Sam Martin. The attorney representing the accuser, Dan Gilleon, told ESPN that the Bills had been aware of the pending lawsuit since July.
The report this week brought new attention to the team’s handling of Araiza, with some fans calling on the team to apologize for releasing him before a more thorough airing of the facts of the case.