Prosecutors on Tuesday said former Bills punter Matt Araiza was not present at a gang rape alleged to have taken place at his residence in October 2021, when he was still enrolled at San Diego State.
Tuesday’s announcement provides further context to December news that Araiza would not face criminal charges after he and two SDSU teammates were accused of participating in the rape of a 17-year-old girl. Prosecutors at the time did not provide reasoning or inclusion of exculpatory evidence in announcing Araiza wouldn’t be charged.
A sixth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Araiza is still involved in a civil case regarding the accusations against him. The graphic details of the suit, filed in August 2022, resulted in his release from Buffalo. He later went unclaimed on waivers as the suit and criminal investigation progressed.
Araiza issued a statement to ProFootballTalk on Tuesday, saying he was thankful more facts have been released in regard to the accusations he faced:
I am aware that the facts of this case have been made public. 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.
I can only hope that now people will assess me on the facts and not what was falsely claimed in both the civil suit and in the press.
I am beyond thankful for the unwavering support of both my family and friends. 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.
His statement did not indicate whether he would attempt a return to the NFL. The only potential holdup in Araiza joining an NFL team now is public perception. Both Bills coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane spoke out in the wake of accusations against the punter, with Beane saying at the time of his release that “this is bigger than football.”
Under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Araiza can’t be punished because the allegations against him detailed an incident before he was drafted. Nor would the results of the civil case impact his ability to hold a roster spot.