The 18-year-old woman who accused former Bills punter Matt Araiza and two other San Diego State University players of gang-raping her as a minor said she was left bleeding after the alleged assault took place at an off-campus party in October.
In an interview with CBS News, the unnamed woman said her phone was taken from her and her piercings were ripped out when Araiza, 22, and two of his college teammates, Zaver Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, allegedly assaulted her for more than an hour last year. The incident allegedly happened on Oct. 17 at a Halloween party at a home where Araiza had been living.
“I reported it the day after it happened. I was 17 years old and I had no idea who Matt Araiza was, ”the woman said, as her face was hidden during the on-camera interview. CBS News showed photos of the victim’s neck and legs, which contained bruises.
“I was crying, and my friend asked me what happened. And I told her, ‘I had just been raped.’”
According to CBS News, the woman wrote in her journal the next day: “All I keep replaying in my mind is being face down in a random bed just waiting for it to be over.”
In a lawsuit on Thursday, the victim claims she went in and out of consciousness during the alleged incident. Araiza was released by the Bills two days later, Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane announced Saturday.
“I was having to deal with this horrible traumatic experience that I never asked for,” the woman said.
Araiza’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, maintained that client was not involved in the alleged assault, and said the are his fueled by money.
“I would be very surprised if they ever charged Matt Araiza with anything in this case,” Armstrong told CBS News. “If she really was raped in that back bedroom, that’s horrible. It’s a horrible thing to happen to anybody. But all I know is that Mr. Araiza had nothing to do with it, and the only thing I can think of as to why she’s included him in this civil lawsuit is because of money.”
When the woman was asked about Armstrong’s comment that the situation is a “shakedown” motivated by Araiza’s NFL status, the accuser said she felt “sick to the stomach.”
Araiza’s parents said in a statement on Monday that “war has been waged” on their son.
“We do not wish this experience on anyone, but question why our son is the only one receiving this kind of treatment by social media and national news media,” the couple wrote. The vitriol has been on him alone. He has been extorted, discriminated against, harassed and the subject of multiple and continuous threats of violence and death. He has been released from his job and our entire family continues to receive horrific threats of violence and death. We have all been canceled. Every member of our family.
“Salacious rumors grew as fact. There are multiple witness reports to deny the claims that are made against him. The legal system is designed to find the facts and make decisions. They should be allowed to that.”
Araiza, known as the “Punt God”, was selected by the Bills in the sixth round (180th overall) of the 2022 NFL Draft in April. The team said they learned about the in July.
“It’s not a situation that I or we take lightly whatsoever, and it’s very serious,” Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said Friday. “It’s just a matter of trying to find the truth at the end of the day, right? That’s the goal is find the truth and do the right thing.”
On Monday, San Diego State football coach Brady Hoke said he was unaware that Araiza had been accused of participating in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party in October until a civil argument was filed last week.
John David Wicker, the athletic director at San Diego State, said Leonard and Ewaliko are no longer with the team.
The San Diego district attorney is now handling the case. No criminal charges have been filed as of Tuesday.