Buffalo Bills cut rookie punter Matt Araiza after gang-rape allegations

Buffalo Bills rookie punter Matt Araiza has been cut loose from the team just days after horrifying rape allegations against him surfaced.

The team announced the news late Saturday, just two days after a civil lawsuit was filed alleging that Araiza, together with two of his former San Diego State University teammates, gang-raped a 17-year-old high school student at an off-campus Halloween party last year.

“This afternoon, we decided that releasing Matt Araiza was the best thing to do. Our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games,” General Manager Brandon Beane said in a statement shared by the team’s official Twitter account.

The decision comes after the team initially appeared to stand by Araiza after news of the civil lawsuit broke, with head coach Sean McDermott saying at a Friday press conference that the team had “conducted a thorough examination” into the matter.

But in the wake of the allegations, Araiza didn’t take the field in the team’s final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Friday night, instead releasing a brief statement while backup quarterback Matt Barkley fulfilled punting duties.

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

Araiza was also absent from practice Saturday, having traveled back to Buffalo, New York, according to ESPN.

An attorney for the NFL star has denied the allegations against him. The lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, told the Los Angeles Times that a hired investigator said witnesses have contradicted the accusations in the lawsuit.

“It’s a shakedown because he’s now with the Buffalo Bills,” Armstrong was quoted saying.

According to the lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, Araiza and his teammates are accused of gang-raping a then-17-year-old who had been plied with a drink that “not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances.”

The lawsuit singled Araiza out specifically for allegedly leading the teen into a room where other men had been waiting and who allegedly then “took turns raping her for an hour and a half” as she slipped in and out of consciousness.

The lawsuit also alleges that Araiza later urged the teen to get tested for chlamydia in a taped phone call made with help from the police.

Dan Gilleon, a lawyer for the accuser, who has not been identified by name, posted images on Twitter that he said were diary entries the teen had penned a day after the alleged assault.

“I remember being led to a room where they were all already waiting,” she wrote in one entry, according to Gilleon.

“I was bloody after. BLOODY. What the hell did they do to me in there???” another of the purported diary entries read.

By Allison Quinn