Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said he has learned fresh details of the gang-rape allegations leveled at Matt Araiza in the last 24 hours after leaving him out of the team that played Carolina Panthers on Friday night.
McDermott faced the media after his team was beaten 21-0 in a preseason game overshadowed by allegations that emerged on Thursday that Araiza gang-raped a 17-year-old in an off-campus party at San Diego State in 2021.
Coach McDermott said Araiza would travel back with the team after Friday’s game but refused to comment on any involvement he would have beyond that.
‘I would say there has been some (new detail in the last 24 hours), I’m not going to deny that and that’s why I have more work to do on this,’ McDermott said. ‘I’m trying to be solution oriented right now.
‘It was my decision (for him not to play). I didn’t feel it was right. I made the decision at some point today, I felt it was the right thing to do and that’s what we are after.
‘It’s not easy to hear about some of the things that I’ve heard about in the last several hours and I haven’t slept a lot to be honest with you. This is a game but there are other things more important than this.
Matt Araiza, the Buffalo Bills rookie accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old, will miss his team’s game against Carolina on Friday
Araiza was pictured arriving with the team on Friday but he did not play in the game
Speaking after, coach Sean McDermott said he had learned new details in the last 24 hours
‘It’s a situation that is extremely serious, just hard to go through and it’s not a situation that I or we take lightly whatsoever. It’s very serious, I understand the sensitivity of the situation and it’s clear we have work to do to figure this thing out here.’
Araiza put out a statement while the Bills were playing on Friday, which said: ‘The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.’
McDermott said after Friday’s game that he didn’t know Araiza was going to put the statement out, but he had since been made aware of what it said.
It’s a matter of trying to find the truth and do the right thing. That’s what I keep coming back to in my mind – find out the truth and do the right thing. We’ve got a lot of work in front of us,’ McDermott said. He also explained that he had spoken to his team about the developments.
‘They (the team) know this is going on, all the stuff that is out there. We talked about the seriousness of the situation, the sensitivity of the situation and that is real.
‘I’m concerned about all of it – people involved on both sides, people are hurt, fans are hurt. I understand that – again, we want to find the truth, figure this thing out the right way and do the right thing.’
Quarterback Matt Barkley also faced the media briefly after the game and said: ‘It was a big shock. It seems like there is still a lot coming out, I guess it’s a work in progress.’
He said he had not spoken to Araiza since learning about the allegations but added he ‘probably’ would have a conversation with him, but didn’t know when.
‘I’d rather not discuss my reaction or talk about it. I know it’s a work in progress and there’s a lot to work through. Let’s leave it at that,’ Barkley added.
Quarterback Matt Barkley said he had not yet spoken to Araiza about the allegations
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, accuses Araiza, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin ‘Pa’a’ Ewaliko of gang raping a then-17-year-old girl at a Halloween party.
The plaintiff, now 18, is identified in the complaint as ‘Jane Doe’ because she was underage at the time.
There is a criminal investigation into the allegations, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the lawsuit. No arrests have been made and San Diego Police have not publicly identified any suspects.
Araiza would not be subject to the NFL personal conduct policy over the alleged rape because it took place in 2021, before he was a league player.
The lawsuit states that the teen had been drinking with friends when they decided to go to the party on October 17 and she was ‘observably intoxicated upon arrival.’ She became separated from her friends and was approached by Araiza who offered her a drink, according to the lawsuit. She believes the drink ‘not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,’ the complaint said.
Araiza waves to fans after a preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Orchard Park, New York on August 13
Buffalo Bills punter Araiza told his 17-year-old rape accuser in a police-monitored phone call that she needed to be tested for chlamydia after an alleged hour-and-a-half-long attack that left her ‘bloody and crying,’ according to a court filing obtained by DailyMail.com
She told Araiza, who was 21 at the time, that she was a high school senior, according to the lawsuit. She alleges he then led her to a side yard where he asked her to perform oral sex and then had sex with her before taking her to a bedroom in the home. There were at least three other men in the room, including Leonard and Ewaliko, according to the complaint. The lawsuit states that Araiza threw the teen onto the bed and she went in and out of consciousness while she was being raped. It added, ‘but she does remember some moments from the horrific gang rape.’
After an hour-and-a-half, the teen ‘stumbled out of the room bloody and crying,’ according to the complaint. Her nose, belly button, and ear piercings had been pulled out.
She immediately told her friends about the rape and the next day reported it to police and underwent a rape exam, according to the lawsuit. Officers coached her on calling Araiza, which she did 10 days later as detectives recorded it, according to the complaint.
During the call, Araiza acknowledged having sex with her, the lawsuit states, but later, when she asked him ‘And did we have actual sex?’ he responded ‘This is Matt Araiza. I don’t remember anything that happened that night’ and hung up.
But before getting off the phone, Araiza did tell Doe to get tested for chlamydia.