Content warning: this story contains details of alleged sexual violence.
Former Buffalo Bills and San Diego State University football punter Matt Araiza will not be charged in connection with the alleged gang rape of a minor, the San Diego District Attoney's Office announced Wednesday.
Araiza was one of three now-former Aztec football players named in the lawsuit. Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, will not be charged either, according to the statement.
The office says sexual assault experts, District Attorney prosecutors and investigators all analyzed evidence in the case which included 35 witnesses, DNA results, and evidence from 10 search warrants.
“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 office said. “Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The civil case remains ongoing
The now 18-year old woman alleged that Araiza, then 21, had sex with her in the yard of a house near the San Diego State campus on Oct. 17, 2021. Araiza allegedly then brought her inside the house, where she says she was raped by Araiza, Leonard and Ewaliko.
The lawsuit says the woman, then a minor, immediately reported the alleged rape to friends and then to police the next day. Araiza was never arrested or charged following that complaint, and the allegation wasn’t ultimately revealed publicly until the filing of the civil suit in August.
After the Police Department investigated the allegations for nine months, it was not recommended that charges be filed when the case was submitted, the District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Araiza set an NCAA record in his senior season with a 51.19-yard punting average and became known by the nickname “Punt God.”
He was selected in the sixth-round by Buffalo and was cut within two days of the filing. Leonard was cut from by the Aztecs and Ewaliko left the team weeks later.