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Former Bills Punter Matt Araiza Not Charged in Sexual Assault Case

  • Araiza was cut by the Bills after he and two of his San Diego State teammates were accused of rape.
  • San Diego DA said "evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges."
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Former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza will not face criminal charges over allegations he sexually a 17-year-old high school student while Araiza attended San Diego State. 

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office made the announcement on Wednesday after what it described as a “thorough, thoughtful, and careful” review of the evidence. 

“Ultimately, prosecutors determined it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges, and there is no path to a potential criminal conviction,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Araiza, who earned the name “Punt God” at SDSU was released from the Bills after the accuser filed a lawsuit alleging that Araiza and two of his then-Aztec teammates, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, took part in a “horrific gang rape” at an off-campus party in October 2021.

“I am grateful that the District Attorney and the San Diego Police Department have discovered all the facts and found no criminal wrongdoing,” Araiza said in a statement. “I am excited to continue my NFL career.”

Araiza’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, told Front Office Sports that he “always thought this would be the result.”

“The deputy district attorney assigned to the case did an extremely thorough review of all of the facts and determined that the case should be rejected,” Armstrong said. “That was the fair and just decision to make in this case. Now Matt can focus on the civil lawsuit and also getting himself back into the NFL.

“I am very hopeful that a team will eventually pick him up. He deserves it.

San Diego police handed over its investigation to prosecutors in August with no recommendation on charges.

“I am never surprised when a prosecutor does not file sexual assault charges when the victim was intoxicated,” Daniel Gilleon, the accuser’s attorney, said in a statement to Front Office Sports. “It’s a very rare case where the criminal justice system achieves anything satisfactory for the victim in a sexual assault.”

A message left with Araiza’s attorney was not immediately returned.

As Front Office Sports previously reported, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said police obtained information from cell phones and surveillance cameras as part of the investigation. 

“The DA’s Office must rely on facts and evidence and not on civil court filings or other reports in the media if not verified by admissible evidence,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. 

The civil case against Araiza, Leonard and Ewaliko is still pending.

“It’s a different ball game here,” Gilleon said. “The victim is represented, and the focus is on the harm defendants caused her. It is only in the civil system that a victim of sexual assault can achieve justice, and we plan to do just that.”

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