ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Bills announced Saturday night that they have released punter Matt Araiza.
On Thursday, a civil lawsuit was filed in California alleging that he and two former San Diego State University teammates raped a 17-year-old girl at a party in October 2021.
Araiza released a statement Friday night through his agent, which was obtained by News 4, stating: “The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.” He was held out of Friday night’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
“We don’t have all the facts and that’s what makes it hard. But at this time, we think it’s the best move for everyone to move on from Matt and let him take care of this situation,” general manager Brandon Beane said Saturday.
Beane said that the team found out about the accusations in late July, from the plaintiff’s representatives. Her attorney, Dan Gilleon, has said that he first notified the team around that same time.
“It’s bigger than football,” Beane said. “It’s something you have to respond to. We’re not the judge and the jury but again, it’s bigger than football.”
Beane added that the team found out about the allegations through Kathryn D’Angelo, the team’s assistant legal counsel.
“One of those things on there, if true, would be a no-go for us. We just needed to put as many facts together as we could in a limited amount of time,” Beane said. “Obviously, Matt’s version was different and you want to give everyone as much due process as you can.”
Beane said that to the team’s understanding, Araiza found out “around” the same time that the team did that he was under investigation and hired his attorney, Kerry Armstrong. According to a text message exchange that was tweeted by Gilleon, Armstrong said “[Araiza’s] very nice parents have asked me to reach out to you and ask what number your client is looking for.”
“As Brandon said, we’ve tried to sort through a lot of information, it’s ongoing, and that to me has been one of the harder parts of this and that information continues to flow, it seems,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said.
On Monday, the Bills had released Matt Haack, the other punter on the roster during training camp, three days before the lawsuit was made public. The release of Haack indicated that Araiza had won the starting job at punter.
“That’s a tough one,” Beane said. “You can second guess whether that was the right move and we’ll definitely look at that one going forward.”
The Bills had drafted Araiza in the sixth round of the NFL Draft last April.