March 24, 2023

Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott said he has learned new details about the gang rape allegations against Matt Araiza in the past 24 hours after he dropped him from the team that played the Carolina Panthers Friday night.

McDermott faced the media after his team was beaten 21–0 in a preseason game, overshadowed by allegations that emerged Thursday that Araiza raped a 17-year-old group at an off-campus party in the state of San Diego in 2021.

Coach McDermott said Araiza would travel back with the team after Friday’s game, but declined to comment on any further involvement he would have.

“I’d say there’s 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 now try to be solution-oriented.

“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’re looking for.

“It’s not easy to hear about some of the things I’ve been hearing about for the past few hours and I haven’t slept much to be honest. This is a game, but there are other things that are more important than this.

Matt Araiza, the Buffalo Bills rookie charged with gang-raping a 17-year-old, will miss his team’s game against Carolina on Friday.

Araiza was pictured in the photo that arrived with the team on Friday, but he didn’t play in the game

“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. It is very serious, I understand the sensitivity of the situation and it is clear that there is work to be done to sort this out here.”

Araiza made a statement while the Bills played on Friday, saying: “The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to setting the record straight soon.”

McDermott said after Friday’s game that he was unaware that Araiza would release the statement, but had since been made aware of what it said.

It is a matter of trying to find the truth and doing the right thing. That’s what I keep coming back to in my mind – discover the truth and do the right thing. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” McDermott said. He also explained that he has discussed the developments with his team.

“They (the team) know this is going on, all the things that are out there. We talked about the seriousness of the situation, the sensitivity of the situation and that’s real.

“I’m all worried about it: people on both sides, people are hurt, fans are hurt. I understand that – again, we want to find the truth, figure this out the right way and do the right thing.”

Quarterback Matt Barkley also faced the media shortly after the game and said: “It was a big shock. It looks like there’s still a lot to come, I think it’s a work in progress.’

He said he hadn’t spoken to Araiza since hearing about the allegations, but added that he would “probably” have a conversation with him, but didn’t know when.

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“I’d rather not talk about my reaction or 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 accuser, now 18, is identified in the complaint as “Jane Doe” because she was a minor at the time.

A criminal investigation into the allegations is underway, the officials said Los Angeles Times, who first reported the lawsuit. No arrests have been made and the San Diego Police Department has not publicly identified any suspects.

Araiza would not be subject to the NFL’s personal conduct policy regarding the alleged rape, as 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 attend the party on October 17 and that she was “probably drunk on 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 “contained not only alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,” the indictment said.

Araiza waves to fans after a preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Orchard Park, New York on Aug. 13

She told Araiza, who was 21 at the time, that she was in high school, according to the lawsuit. She claims he then led her to a side yard where he asked her to have oral sex and then had sex with her before taking her to a bedroom in the house. According to the complaint, there were at least three other men in the room, including Leonard and Ewaliko. According to the lawsuit, Araiza threw the teenager on the bed and went in and out of consciousness while being raped. It added, “but she does remember some moments of the horrific gang rape.”

After an hour and a half, the teen stumbled out of the room “bleeding and crying,” the complaint said. Her nose, belly button, and ear piercings had been pulled out.

She immediately told her friends about the rape, and the next day she reported it to the police and underwent a rape investigation, the lawsuit said. Officers coached her when she called Araiza, which she did 10 days later when detectives recorded it, according to the complaint.

During the phone call, Araiza admitted to having sex with her, the lawsuit states, but later, when she asked him “And did we really have sex?” he replied, ‘This is Matt Araiza. I don’t remember anything that happened that night” and hung up.

But before she answered the phone, Araiza told Doe to get tested for chlamydia.