Bills release gambler Matt Araiza after rape allegation

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ORCHARD PARK, NY — A huge public backlash coupled with the graphic details contained in a lawsuit alleging Matt Araiza’s involvement in the gang rape of a teenager last fall has left Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane no choice but to release the team’s rookie kicker on Saturday. .

The decision to cut ties with the 22-year-old marks a major change for the Bills, two days after they endorsed the player based on the findings of what the team called its “comprehensive review” of the allegations in the lawsuit. . .

And it comes less than a week after the Bills, though they knew he was the target of a police investigation, cleared the way for Araiza to take over the punt duties by taking out veteran Matt Haack on Monday.

“The last 48 hours have been very difficult for a lot of people. It’s been tough. And we stand in solidarity with this whole situation, all parties involved, this young woman, what she went through,” Beane said during a 26-minute interview. press conference, sitting next to coach Sean McDermott.

“But right now, we think it’s the best move for everyone to leave Matt and let him deal with this situation and focus on that. So, we’re going to part ways there,” added Beane.

Beane said the Bills weren’t aware of the allegations against Araiza when they selected him in the sixth round of the draft in April. And if they had known, he said, they would have brushed it off.

Araiza’s departure begins to ease a crisis that has rocked the two-time AFC East champions. McDermott was visibly upset as he discussed the situation following a 21-0 preseason loss at Carolina on Friday night.

“I’m hurt,” McDermott said. “It is not easy to listen to some of the things that I have heard in the last few hours. I haven’t slept much to be honest with you.”

The Bills began to distance themselves from Araiza on Friday, when he was unable to play. Instead, he watched the game from an undisclosed location in the stadium rather than from the sidelines along with his teammates.

On Saturday, Araiza was not present for practice despite the Bills saying he was on their roster, while at the same time his No. 19 jersey was no longer available for sale on the Bills’ online store afterward. having been included in the list that same day.

Araiza’s only comment since the lawsuit was filed came in a statement issued by his agent during Friday’s game.

“The facts of the incident are not what is described in the lawsuit or in the press. I hope to make things clear quickly,” said Araiza.

in a text to The Associated PressAraiza’s attorney, Kerry Armstrong, defended his client, writing, “I’m sure he is very upset and disappointed that his career with the Bills ended not because he played poorly, but because of the false accusations leveled against him by a young and his attorney. I hope he returns to the NFL soon.”

The victim’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, released his own statement saying the Bills ignored concerns he raised about Araiza when he contacted the team in late July.

“The Buffalo Bills had no choice but to cut their young kicker after being so botched in their response to our claim,” Gilleon said. in the sand. This is what enablers do.”

Beane said the team did its best to get as many details as possible, though he noted that many of the allegations were not available because the results of the San Diego police investigation have not been released. He said the team decided not to “rush to judgment” based on the information it had, noting that Araiza never changed his version of what happened.

“You want to give everyone due process as much as possible. Again, we are not judge and jury,” Beane said.

The lawsuit filed in San Diego County Superior Court accused Araiza and two San Diego State teammates of raping a then-17-year-old girl at a Halloween party at an off-campus home where Araiza lived.

The results of the police investigation are in the hands of the district attorney, although there is no timetable for when a decision will be made on whether or not to press charges.

Executives from two different teams told The Associated Press that they learned of Araiza’s involvement in an incident during the draft process, but neither person knew the extent of the allegations. Executives from three other teams said they were unaware of the allegations against Araiza before the draft and only learned of the incident on Thursday. All of the people spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Beane said it was unclear who, Araiza or the victim’s attorney, Gilleon, first told the team about the allegations. As for the decision not to contact Gilleon for more information, Beane said the team’s attorney, Kathryn D’Angelo, “had listened to what she had to say, and that’s when we started our process.”

Beane said Araiza’s version of what happened never changed.

“We’re not perfect. But I can tell you we just try to do the right thing,” Beane said. what is right.”

The Bills also informed the NFL of the incident once they found out about it, a person familiar with the situation told The AP. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, was unsure of the timeline.

The NFL declined to comment except to say it was aware of the matter.

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