Bills punter Matt Araiza releases statement following civil suit alleging gang rape: ‘I look forward to quickly setting the record straight’

Buffalo Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza, who on Thursday was accused in a civil lawsuit of taking part in the gang rape of a minor during an off-campus party at San Diego State University in 2021, released a statement Friday stating he is looking forward to “setting the record straight.”

“The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press,” Araiza said in the statement obtained by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. “I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”

Araiza did not play Friday in his team’s preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers. Araiza traveled with the team to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday and was in attendance pregame on Friday. He is currently the only punter on the Bills’ roster. Buffalo backup quarterback Matt Barkley punted for the team on Friday.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court, alleges Araiza had sex with a then-17-year-old girl at an off-campus home, where Araiza resided, and then took her to a room where she was repeatedly raped. Araiza was accused along with two other football players: Zavier Leonard, currently on the San Diego State roster; and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, who is not listed on the team’s current roster. Araiza was a star punter for SDSU as a redshirt junior in 2021, winning the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter before foregoing his senior season to enter the 2022 NFL Draft.

No arrests have been made and San Diego Police have not publicly identified any suspects, according to the Associated Press.

“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” the Bills said in a statement on Thursday, obtained by NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. “Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we conducted a thorough examination of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no other comment at this point.”

The NFL’s Personnel Conduct Policy does not apply to incidents that take place prior to a player being drafted or joining a team. If criminal charges are filed against Araiza, however, he would then be subject to a league investigation and potential disciplinary action, per the league policy.

Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s attorney, has denied the rape accusation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Araiza was selected in the sixth round of the 2022 draft.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major