(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The Buffalo Bills released rookie punter Matt Araiza Saturday after he was named in a lawsuit that accused him and two others of gang rape.
“We have released Punter Matt Araiza,” the NFL team said in a statement Saturday.
An additional post attributed to GM Brandon Beane expanded as to why the decision was made to release Araiza, a 22-year-old NFL rookie nicknamed the “Punt God” who has denied the accusations.
“This afternoon, we decided that releasing Matt Araiza was the best thing to do. Our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games,” the post read.
Beane, who was joined by Coach Sean McDermott, also spoke at a press conference and said it was a “tough” situation for all the parties involved.
“It’s been tough. And you know, we sympathize with this whole situation all the parties involved this young woman, what she went through, you know, you really feel bad for that whole situation. And, you know, ultimately this is a legal situation. We don’t know You know, all the facts,” he said.
Beane added that the team had spoken to the accuser’s lawyer and that “we tried to be thorough, and thoughtful and not rush to judgment.”
“With the serious nature of allegations and we just can’t, we don’t have the means to put all the facts together. And there’s multiple versions of of what happened and you know, he’s a football coach. I’m a GM like we don’t have access to everything. And so that’s more important than playing football. And so we want Matt to focus on that,” he said.
Beane also said that the team’s investigation into the allegations were ongoing after previously stating that the team “conducted a thorough examination of this matter.”
“This was about not a football move about letting Matt go handle the situation,” he said.
Araiza’s lawyer, Kerry L. Armstrong, released a statement Saturday following his release.
“I have not talked to Matt about this yet, but I sent him a text. I am sure he is very upset and disappointed that his career with the Bills ended not because he played poorly, but because of false allegations leveled against him by a young lady and her attorney. I hope he is back in the NFL soon. He deserves to be, as he is the hardest-working twenty-two-year-old I know,” the statement read.
On Thursday, Araiza and two of his San Diego State University teammates, where they played college football, were accused in a lawsuit of raping a 17-year-old girl last October at a Halloween party.
“The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press,” Araiza said in a statement following the announcement of the lawsuit. “I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”
The alleged victim’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, released a statement Friday and said the primary reason why a civil suit was filed was to obtain evidence and information.
“Now that a civil case has been filed, I have the power as an attorney to issue subpoenas and force entities and people to talk under oath and to hand over documents, photos, videos, records, and other information to us—and they have to do it now. This is very important because “time is the defendant’s best witness,” the statement read. “Memories fade and documents disappear. There is every reason and right in the world for a victim to file a civil case early on, especially when the authorities like San Diego Police Department are thumbing in their nose at the victim’s “Bill of Rights.”
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