Prosecutors say former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza was not present when an alleged gang rape of a minor occurred at a 2021 party in San Diego, according to witness testimony that prompted the district attorney to not press charges against Araiza last year.
Prosecutors held a meeting with Araiza's accuser in December 2022 to explain why charges would not be filed and answer any questions she may have had about the investigation.
According to audio from the meeting obtained by ESPN, San Diego deputy district attorney Trisha Amador told the woman they had witness testimony saying Araiza had left the party about an hour before the time of the reported rape. Amador also told the woman that the witness who testified to Araiza's whereabouts was unaware about specific time-stamped video that her office had obtained from the party.
SEE MORE: Bills release punter Matt Araiza after gang rape allegation
Araiza was cut by the Bills last August, days after the rookie punter was named in a lawsuit claiming he and two other teammates had gang raped a 17-year-old girl during a 2021 Halloween party near the San Diego State University campus.
The plaintiff, who filed the suit anonymously, accused Araiza of drugging her before leading her into a bedroom where he and two other men raped her as she went in and out of consciousness. The lawsuit claims the assault lasted about 90 minutes before she "stumbled out of the room bloody and crying."
The woman reported the incident the following day to San Diego police, who turned the case over to prosecutors following a nine-month investigation.
According to transcripts of a phone call between Araiza and his accuser, Araiza admitted that he had "hooked up" with the girl, but said he left the party shortly after.
"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 San Diego County District Attorney's Office said in a statement last December. "Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."
After losing out on his rookie season, Araiza expressed gratitude Tuesday night that prosecutors had cleared his name from the alleged incident.
"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," Araiza said in a statement to Pro Football Talk. "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."
Araiza, who was nicknamed the "Punt God" in college, is still a free agent. Now that he’s been exonerated, whether the Bills — or another NFL team — decide to sign the 22-year-old punter remains to be seen.
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