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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Matt Araiza ‘Elated’ After New Details Emerge of Alleged Incident

  • San Diego prosecutor told accuser that Araiza 'wasn’t even at the party' during one alleged incident.
  • Conversation happened on the same day prosecutors announced Araiza would not be charged.
Matt Araiza looks to re-start his NFL career.
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Months after prosecutors chose not to charge Matt Araiza, more details have surfaced that cast more doubt on the sexual assault allegations made against former Buffalo Bills punter. 

San Diego County deputy district attorney Trisha Amador told the alleged victim that Araiza “wasn’t even at the party” at the time of one incident that allegedly occurred in the early morning hours of Oct. 15, 2021, according to a transcript obtained by Front Office Sports. 

The conversation occurred between prosecutors, the alleged victim, and her representatives occurred on December 7, the same day the office announced it wouldn’t charge anyone related to the reported incident. Yahoo Sports was the first outlet to report on the transcript. 

“I can tell you that I do not have anything that allows me to file charges,” Amador told the accuser. 

Araiza was released by the Bills days after the accuser sued the former San Diego State football player who earned the nickname “Punt God” at the school. 

“Obviously, he’s elated with everything that has come,” said Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s defense attorney. “It seems like he’s more and more exonerated, so he’s happy about that. He just really wants to get back in the NFL.”

Armstrong said “several teams across the NFL” have contacted Araiza’s agent, but his career could remain in limbo as the lawsuit filed by the accuser is resolved. 

“I kind of understand that in a way, but in a way, it makes me kind of upset because the criminal case wasn’t filed,” Armstrong said. “Who really cares so much about a civil suit, but I guess the way things are nowadays.”

Dick Semerdjian and Kristen Bush, two attorneys representing Araiza in the civil case, issued the following statement: 

“The true facts are that the accuser went to a college party, lied about her age, and demanded that men have sex with her. The false allegations made in the civil action against Matt Araiza are outrageous and reckless. We have demanded that the case be immediately dismissed by Matt’s accuser. The ongoing fallacious narrative in the civil action which destroyed Matt’s NFL career with the Buffalo Bills is simply appalling.”

The accuser, who FOS is not identifying, was a 17-year-old high school student when she attended an off-campus party. According to a lawsuit filed by the alleged victim, she accused Araiza and two of his then-San Diego State football teammates, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, of perpetrating a “horrific gang rape.”

But Amador said video obtained from cell phones of those at the party questioned her version of the events, including allegations that Araiza and his teammates assaulted her in a bedroom. 

“As far as any video from the bedroom, there is no video that, in what we look at, that identifies or putting suspect Matt in the bedroom at all,” Amador said. 

The lawsuit also alleged that, before the bedroom, Araiza sexually assaulted her outside the house. Araiza, in a phone call recorded by San Diego police, admitted to a consensual sexual act with the accuser that occurred outside. 

Amador also explained to the accuser why Araiza, 21 at the time, and others weren’t charged with statutory rape. Amador said a video “at a similar party in similar ·circumstances where you’re telling people that you were 18.”

“I have to be able to prove ·that they knew your age,” Amador said 

Dan Gilleon, an attorney for the accuser, said in a statement to FOS and other outlets that the transcript “has no relevance whatsoever to the lawsuit.”

“The first time Araiza had a chance to tell his side of the story was when he was contacted by the police; he took the Fifth, asserting his right not to incriminate himself. Since then, he has remained silent as his attorneys leak irrelevant information to the media and attack the victim, apparently thinking that she’ll be bullied into dropping her case. It’s not going to happen. This case is going to trial, and we’ll force Araiza to talk.”

During that December meeting, Anna Yum, another of the accuser’s attorneys, said that all three suspects “invoked” their constitutional right not to self-incriminate. Amador said at the meeting that Araiza provided a DNA sample. 

While nobody was charged over the alleged sexual assault, one of the suspects was charged due to the investigation. Ewaliko, whose cell phone was obtained via subpoena during the rape investigation, was charged with possession of child porn in March. 

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