Even after the Buffalo Bills released Araiza, an attorney for the woman who claims NFL rookie punter Matt Araiza raped her last year when she was 17 blasted the team on Saturday.
“The Buffalo Bills had no choice but to cut their young punter after so badly botching their response to our claim: they ignored us, as though what I warned them would happen could be avoided if they just kept their heads in the sand,’’ attorney Dan Gilleon said in a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports. “This is what enablers do.”
“My client’s life was forever scarred in October 2021,” Gilleon added, referring to the Halloween party in San Diego where the woman, now 18, says Araiza, then 21, assaulted her during a gang-rape, “but she handled herself with grace and dignity. Not once did she express to me a desire to hurt her assaulters out of revenge or hatred. She never asked for a pound of flesh. Her only task was the kind of justice that might save other young women from the hell she experienced.’’
According to Yahoo News, Araiza, an All-American at San Diego State last year who was nicknamed “Punt God,’’ was drafted by the Bills in the sixth round. He was hired on Monday, but on Thursday, the woman’s attorney filed a civil lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court, alleging rape, and he was fired two days later.
“Matt is very 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,’’ attorney Kerry Armstrong, who represents Araiza, said in a statement he provided to USA TODAY Sports. “I hope he is back in the NFL soon. He deserves to be, as he is the hardest-working (22-year-old) I know.’’
Armstrong drew withering criticism from the woman’s attorney.
“When she authorized me to contact Matt Araiza and the other defendants, she made it clear that money was not her aim,’’ Gilleon said. “She never asked for a dime from Matt Araiza. Mr. Araiza’s attorney knew that. He knew that he had offered us money to settle the case and that we had rejected the offer. Yet, Mr. Araiza’s legal counsel had the audacity to go on a despicable, brainless TV tour to defame my client as a ‘shakedown’ artist and ‘money grabber.’
“Think about that. Mr. Araiza’s legal agent knew that a 17-year-old girl had left a room where Matt Araiza was also present, covered in blood and bruises and crying that she had been raped. Yet, he stooped so low that he was willing to label that 17-year-old girl an opportunistic grifter.
“This was utterly inhumane and stunningly foolish. If Matt Araiza had shown 1% of the grace that my client has, perhaps by offering an apology and donating his money to a charity serving rape survivors, he would still be a Buffalo Bill and his parents could sit in the stands and watch their son with pride. Instead, he decided to hire an attorney who knew only to viciously attack the young woman his client had raped. Now Mr. Araiza’s life is forever scarred too. Perhaps this is the self-inflicted justice he deserves.”