The Buffalo Bills Cut Matt Araiza Over a Rape Accusation, but Key Evidence Vindicates Him
Prosecutors dropped the case after interviewing 35 witnesses who contradicted the accuser.
During the 2022 NFL draft, 21-year-old Matt Araiza—hailed by his fans as "punt god" for his record-breaking abilities as a kicker—was selected to join the Buffalo Bills. But later that year, in August, the team cut Araiza due to an allegation of sexual misconduct.
The allegation referenced events at an October 15, 2021 house party near the campus of San Diego State University (SDSU). A 17-year-old girl and her friends snuck into the party, where she encountered Araiza. According to her, Araiza led her into a bedroom where three men viciously assaulted and raped her. The girl has filed a civil lawsuit against him.
Prosecutors, however, have declined to file charges. Earlier this week, the reason for this became known: Yahoo! Sports obtained a 200-page transcript of a meeting between the prosecutors and the alleged victim in which the former explains to the latter why her accusation is impossible.
According to the authorities, eyewitness testimony establishes that Araiza left the party well before the point at which the girl claimed she was brought to the room where the alleged assault took place. In fact, authorities were hard-pressed to concede an assault had taken place at all; video footage of the sexual encounter suggested that it was consensual.
Interviews with more than 35 witnesses—including the girl's friends—further undermine her claims, according to Deputy District Attorney Trisha Amador:
Witness interviews from the party, including two of the girl's own friends whom she arrived with, said that she didn't appear to be drunk at the time. Other witnesses said the girl was telling people she was 18.
"A witness who was in the house gave a statement saying that at — at least one point in the party, that you made a statement telling people at the party you were 18," Amador explained to the accuser. "Another witness at the party, a different one, says that they specifically heard you say you were 18 …"
Amador also explained to the girl that additional witness testimony alleged that at this period of time, "you were approaching men at the party saying, 'I want you to [expletive] me and if you don't [expletive] me you're a [expletive]."
The civil action is ongoing. In any case, it would certainly appear that the Bills' decision to cut Araiza—who had signed a four-year contract worth $3.9 million—was made in haste, on the basis of an utterly unsupported accusation repeatedly contradicted by evidence and witness testimony.
This occurrence should also serve as a reminder of why the Biden administration's decision to weaken due process protections for accused students was disastrous. False accusations can derail the lives of young men and women; it is essential for authorities to adjudicate disputes in a manner that is fair to all parties. And while the court of public opinion is not bound by the U.S. Constitution, innocent until proven guilty should be the generally advisable standard.