Lawyers for a teenager who accused at least three former and current San Diego State football players — including one who is now an NFL player — of raping her at an off-campus party in 2021, shared photos Friday of the injuries she allegedly suffered during the incident.
Photos and videos show bruising on the then-17-year-old girl’s neck and legs, according to her attorney Dan Gilleon, who said they were taken last October in the days after the incident at a house less than a mile from campus.
All-American punter Matt Araiza — whose play earned him the nickname “Punt God” and a draft pick by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills — is accused in the lawsuit of having sex with the girl he knew was a high school student.
According to the lawsuit, they had sex outside the party before he brought her inside the house, where she was allegedly raped. Current SDSU students Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko were also named as defendants in the lawsuit filed Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court, along with SLJ LLC, the company that owned the apartment where the alleged attack took place.
On Friday, Gilleon also released photos via Twitter showing what’s up presumably the girl’s diary entries handwritten in the days after the alleged assassination. They appear to detail her interview with SDPD and what she remembers from the night.
“I feel like I should document how I feel just to get through it, but I don’t even know how to feel. Part of me can’t help but feel guilty and wonder if I could have prevented it,” a part of the entries read.
The father of the alleged victim sent NBC 7 a statement Friday that his daughter and their family were let down by the police and the university.
“After more than 10 months since the incident and report files with the SDPD and SDSUPD and more than 2 and a half months of media coverage, the SDPD has not made any arrests, SDSU has not made any updates on its Title IX investigation, and the DA have yet to file any criminal charges,” he said. “In order to protect other women from this happening again, to hold accountable those who participated, and to continue the healing process and to try to gain some semblance of control where she had none, my daughter felt it was time to file civil charges. . That it is forcing the victim to try to find justice is disheartening, especially since our family has put our faith and trust in the system for so long while the participants have been free to go on with their normal lives.”
Former SDSU All-American Matt Araiza is one of three former and current Aztecs players accused of gang-raping a teenager last fall. NBC 7’s Dave Summers spoke to the alleged victim’s attorney about the complaint.
Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s attorney, told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that he had not reviewed the complaint. but called the rape allegation false. He said his investigator spoke with party witnesses who contradict the allegations against Araiza. NBC 7 reached out for further comment but did not hear back.
On Friday night, Araiza made his first public comment about the lawsuit, telling The Athletic and ESPN, “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.”
After the Bills’ preseason finale on Friday, head coach Doug McDermott told Bills.com, “It’s not a situation that I or we take lightly. It’s very important. I understand the sensitivity of the situation and it’s clear that we have to do to continue. to figure this thing out. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the people involved.”
A lawyer for Ewaliko said it was all an effort by the 17-year-old’s lawyer to pressure the DA to file criminal charges. And he questioned the girl’s credibility.
“We saw some bruises; we don’t know who is responsible for that,” said lawyer Marc Carlos. “However, when you have an alleged victim who says they were in and out of consciousness, you kind of question the credibility of recall at that point because you’re selectively remembering things that you may or may not have actually experienced.”
Leonard’s attorney Jamahl Kersey has NBC 7 the following statement Friday.
“It is premature to comment, the matter is still being investigated. No conclusion should be reached, despite how alarming the allegations might be.”
The lawsuit alleges that Araiza “was able to observe that [the teen] was heavily intoxicated” and gave her a drink that she did not see him pour. “On information and belief, that drink not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,” the complaint alleged.
The teenager was allegedly led into a room in which Leonard, Ewaliko and at least one other person were already. She went in and out of consciousness as the men raped her, according to the complaint, but she remembered seeing what appeared to be the light. of a cell phone in her peripheral vision as if someone was recording a video.
The complaint said the alleged rape lasted about an hour and a half and ended when the party was closed. The teenager, who has since turned 18, reported the alleged incident to SDPD the next day, the complaint said.
The complaint also alleges that Araiza confirmed that he had sex with the teen during a call between the two the next day, and told the teen that he had tested positive for chlamydia and suggested that she be tested.
“He apologized,” Gilleon said in an interview Thursday.
At the time of the alleged incident, Araiza was 21 years old and Leonard and Ewaliko were about 18, according to the complaint. Leonard is listed as a redshirt freshman and Ewaliko is no longer on the team, according to the university’s roster.
Araiza won the Ray Guy Award, given each year to college football’s best punter, in his final season at SDSU. He graduated from Rancho Bernardo High School in 2017.
NBC 7 also reached out to the Buffalo Bills, who said that “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.”
The NFL said they were aware of the issue but declined to comment.
The San Diego Police Department closed its criminal investigation of the alleged incident in early August without detailing what, if anything, was discovered. Recent requests for comment were not answered.
The plaintiff’s father is now demanding responsibility and justice for his daughter. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda has the story.
No arrests have been made, and a spokesperson for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday said the SDPD investigation is under review, adding, “there is no timeline for how long it will take.”
A few days before SDPD closed its investigation, and nine months after the alleged rape, SDSU President Adela de la Torre announced that the university had launched its own. An SDSU statement sent Thursday said the university’s investigation is ongoing.
“The university takes allegations of sexual assault seriously. Because this involves an active university investigation, and given privacy laws (FERPA), the university is unable to provide specific details about its investigation. However, SDSU’s independent investigative process remains active and is ongoing following California State University’s system-wide policy: CSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Exploitation, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking and Retaliation (Nondiscrimination Policy) If a student is in violation of the student code of conduct, as a result of a thorough investigation, disciplinary action includes but is not limited to suspension, dismissal or expulsion.”
A letter to students on Friday said because their investigation is still active, “the university is unable to provide specific details.”
SDSU has been criticized for the time it takes to launch its own investigation into the alleged rape, but the university says it has withheld an investigation at the request of San Diego police.
“SDPD requested on October 19, 2021, and in subsequent letters, that SDSU — including UPD and the Title IX office — not take any action that could jeopardize SDPD’s criminal investigation, including launching a university-led investigation ,” a university spokesperson told NBC. 7 in an email.
On July 22, SDPD gave SDSU the green light to begin its investigation, according to the school.
“From the moment we learned of the alleged attack, our only interest was in justice and legal accountability for anyone who violated the law,” de la Torre wrote. “As I said before: No one is above the law, and anyone who violated the law and university policy should suffer the consequences.”
The teenager’s father told NBC 7 that the university’s investigation felt like a “public relations move” to him.
On Friday, he also criticized the DA’s office for their lack of criminal charges in a written statement to NBC 7 that said in part:
“In order to protect other women from this happening again, to hold accountable those who participated, and to continue the healing process and to try to gain some semblance of control where she had none, my daughter felt it was time to file civil charges. . That it is forcing the victim to try to find justice is disheartening, especially since our family has put our faith and trust in the system for so long while the participants have been free to go on with their normal lives.”
NBC 7 reached out to the District Attorney’s office for comment again Friday, but did not hear back.
SDSU has launched an investigation into the alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl by five football players. NBC 7’s Nicole Gomez explains why the school is now investigating the October 2021 case.