Lawsuit accuses rookie NFL player and two former college teammates of rape – CNN

Lawsuit accuses rookie NFL player and two former college teammates of rape - CNN

Araiza, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko were part of the San Diego State University football team at the time of the alleged incident last October.

Araiza said in a statement issued through his attorney that, “The facts of the incident are not as they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”

Araiza did not play in the Bills’ preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Earlier, his lawyer, Kerry Armstrong, said CNN his client did not rape the accused.

“He never used any force against her. She was not visibly intoxicated. He did not give her a drink with anything in it,” Armstrong added.

Araiza “hopes it doesn’t affect this career with the Buffalo Bills. He really likes the team and hopes he can stay with them,” said Armstrong.

Jane Doe says she attended a party in the San Diego area with friends, but was separated from them when she met Araiza, according to the lawsuit. The claim further alleges that Araiza “could observe that Doe was very intoxicated” and “gave her a drink anyway.”

“Doe informed Araiza that she attended Grossmont High School. Araiza, who was 21 years old, knew or should have known that Doe was a minor,” the complaint says.

The woman says Araiza led her to a bedroom where “there were at least three other men already in the bedroom,” including Leonard and Ewaliko, who were both at least 18 at the time, according to the court document. Shortly after Doe entered the bedroom, the men allegedly began engaging in sexual acts with her, the lawsuit alleges.

“Doe was raped for approximately an hour and a half until the party was closed. Doe stumbled out of the room bloody and crying,” the complaint said.

Doe reported the alleged incident the next day to the San Diego Police Department and underwent a rape exam at a local hospital, according to the lawsuit. Days later, detectives arranged “pretext” calls between Doe and the men they determined to be her alleged attackers, the claim said.

“During the call, Araiza confirmed having sex with Doe, even telling her she should be tested for STDs,” the claim said, but when she pressed him about their encounter, “Araiza immediately changed his tone, saying, ‘This is Matt Araiza. . I don’t remember anything that happened that night,’ then he ended the pretend call by hanging up on Doe,” the complaint alleges.

Ewaliko’s attorney, Marc Carlos, told CNN in a phone interview that he sees some problems with Doe’s credibility and the circumstances under which she reported the event. “The filing of the civil suit is clearly an attempt to pressure the DA to file a case,” he said.

Ewaliko is not enrolled at San Diego State this semester, according to Carlos.

Leonard’s lawyer, Jamahl Kersey, said: “We are aware of the lawsuit that was filed yesterday and we respectfully decline to comment.” He said he could not comment on his client’s status as a San Diego State student or player.

The police department has submitted its investigation to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and is being reviewed, the DA’s office said, although officials did not indicate when a charging decision might be made.

CNN also requested comment from police.

The university released a statement saying it “takes allegations of sexual assault seriously.” but could not release specific details about the case due to privacy concerns stating that the allegations were still under “an active university investigation.” The statement went on to say that violating the university’s student code of conduct could potentially result in “suspension, dismissal or expulsion.”

“We recently became aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021,” a Buffalo Bills spokesperson said. “Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we have conducted a thorough examination of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no further comment at this point.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that league officials were aware of the matter but had no additional comment.

An NFL player cannot be suspended for conduct prior to joining the league. But if a person is being investigated for actions that occur while an NFL player, prior conduct can count for possible discipline, according to the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

CNN’s Jill Martin and Taylor Romine contributed to this report.

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