NFL punter Matt Araiza and two former college teammates charged with rape in trial

Araiza, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin « Pa’a » Ewaliko were on the San Diego State University football team at the time of the alleged incident last October.

« I’m disappointed that she brought this civil action against my client because he didn’t rape her. He never used force against her. She wasn’t visibly drunk. He didn’t rape her. handed a drink with anything in it, » Araiza said. attorney, Kerry Armstrong, told CNN.

Araiza « hopes this won’t affect his career with the Buffalo Bills. He really loves the team and hopes he can stay with them, » Armstrong said.

Jane Doe says she attended a party in the San Diego area with friends, but was separated from them when she met Araiza, according to the lawsuit. The claim further claims that Araiza « could observe that Doe was heavily intoxicated » and « handed him a drink anyway. »

« Doe informed Araiza that she was attending Grossmont High School. Araiza, who was 21, knew or should have known that Doe was underage, » the complaint states.

The woman says Araiza led her to a room where « there were already at least three other men in the room », including Leonard and Ewaliko, who were both at least 18 at the time, according to the document. judicial. Shortly after Doe entered the bedroom, the men allegedly began engaging in sexual acts with her, according to the lawsuit.

« Doe was raped for about an hour and a half until the party was called off. Doe walked out of the venue sobbing and crying, » the complaint said.

Doe reported the alleged incident the next day to the San Diego Police Department and was examined for rape at a local hospital, according to the lawsuit. Days later, detectives arranged « pretext » calls between Doe and the men they determined to be his alleged attackers, according to the claim.

« During the call, Araiza confirmed that she had sex with Doe, even telling her that she should get tested for STDs, » the claim said, but when she pressed him about their encounter, » Araiza immediately changed his tune, saying, ‘It’s Matt Araiza. I don’t remember anything that happened that night, « when he ended the pretext call by hanging up on Doe, » the complaint alleges.

Ewaliko’s attorney, Marc Carlos, told CNN in a phone interview that he saw issues with Doe’s credibility and the circumstances in which she reported the event. « The filing of the civil suit is clearly an attempt to pressure the prosecutor into filing a complaint, » he said.

Ewaliko is not enrolled at San Diego State this semester, according to Carlos.

Leonard’s attorney, Jamahl Kersey, said, « We are aware of the lawsuit which was filed yesterday and we respectfully decline to comment. » He said he couldn’t comment on his client’s status as a student or San Diego State player.

The police department submitted its investigation to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office and it is being reviewed. the prosecutor’s office said, although officials did not say when a charging decision might be made.

CNN has also requested comment from the police.

The university released a statement saying it « takes allegations of sexual assault seriously. » but was unable to release specific details of the case due to confidentiality concerns saying the allegations were still under « active academic investigation ». The statement further states that a violation of the university’s student code of conduct could potentially result in « suspension, dismissal or expulsion. »

“We recently became aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” a Buffalo Bills spokesperson said. « Due to the seriousness of the complaint, we have conducted a thorough review of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil matter, we will have no further comment at this stage. »

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that league officials are aware of the matter but have no further comment.

An NFL player cannot be suspended for conduct before joining the league. But if a person is under investigation for actions that occur as an NFL player, prior conduct may count toward potential discipline, according to the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.

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