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A teenager who has accused former Buffalo Bills Punter Matt Araiza in a civil lawsuit of a gang rape at an off-campus Halloween party last year is speaking out about the alleged attack, saying her piercings were ripped from her body and she was left bloody and bruised.
Araiza—who has not been criminally charged in connection with the allegations at this time—has proclaimed his innocence through his attorney. The stand-out rookie punter was let go by the Buffalo Bills this week after the lawsuit was filed against him.
The alleged victim, whose identity has not been revealed, told ABC’s “Nightline” that she was 17 years old when she went to an off-campus Halloween party at San Diego State University with some friends.
“Matt came up to me, starting talking to me, flirting, he gave me a drink and then he led me over to a side yard,” the teen, who said she was heavily intoxicated, told the news outlet.
According to her account, Araiza, then 21 years old and a star college football player, asked her to perform oral sex on him, then turned her around and had sex with her from behind before leading her into a bedroom where two of his teammates—identified in the lawsuit as Zavier Leonard and Nowlin Ewaliko, both 18 at the time—were already waiting.
"When I walked into that room and I saw that there were several guys already in there, I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen, and I expected it," she said.
Once inside the bedroom, she has alleged that she was violently gang-raped, asserting in the complaint that they men “took turns having sex with her from behind” as she drifted in and out of consciousness.
The teen told “Nightline” that she never gave consent and said she had been “screaming and crying.”
During the encounter, she said her piercings were ripped out of her body and she was left bruised and bleeding.
“I feel like it should be clear to anybody that that's not consensual sex," she said.
The teen said the attack left her costume and underwear covered in blood. Her friends took her home a short time later and she reported the alleged rape to police the next morning. That same day, she was taken to a hospital where a rape kit was performed.
“Everything about this has been hard,” the alleged victim said of the months that would follow.
San Diego Police have completed their investigation and handed the case over to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, who will determine what criminal charges, if any, will be filed.
“The San Diego Police Department has submitted its investigation to our office and it is currently under review,” public affairs officer Tanya Sierra told Oxygen.com. “There is no timeline for how long it will take.”
The teen has said she initially didn’t know who her alleged attackers were but detectives were able to piece it together through other witnesses who had been at the party that night. They also arranged for the teen to call Araiza and record the conversation under the pretense that she didn’t remember what happened and just needed to know if they had sex and if she needed to be tested for STDs.
"He told me that we had hooked up and he told me that I should get tested for chlamydia,” she said. “I then was told by my detectives to clarify what he meant by hook up, and so I asked him if we had had actual sex and his tone completely changed from that point.”
He told her they never had sex and abruptly ended the phone call at that point, she said.
While police continued to investigate the incident, Araiza was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in April and awarded a $4 million contract.
The teen told “Nightline” when she heard the news, she started vomiting.
"I was really upset because I thought that I had been doing everything that I was supposed to be doing in order to get them to face consequences," she said. "I reported it right away and I was giving all my evidence to authorities and just to see him continuing on and thriving while I felt like my life was completely torn apart.”
She filed a lawsuit against all three men on Aug. 25 because she said she’s “just looking for closure.” She’s also hopeful that criminal charges will be filed.
"I know this is something that's going to stick around forever, but I think the closure will help. And I really do hope that I get it," she said.
Two days after filing the suit, the Buffalo Bills announced that Araiza had been cut from the team.
“This afternoon, we decided that releasing Matt Araiza was the best thing to do,” General Manager Brandon Beane said on Twitter. “Our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games.”
In response to the teen’s “Nightline” interview, Araiza’s attorney told Oxygen.com that the allegations against him are “false.”
“It is a shame that this young lady continues to issue incorrect and false statements regarding my client, Matt Araiza,” he said. “I am not going to try this case in the press as her civil attorney is attempting to do. But needless to say, I have several witnesses who will refute most of what she has alleged in the civil lawsuit.”
He said Araiza “looks forward to defending himself in this case, whether it be in civil court, criminal court, or both.”
Araiza’s parents have also refuted the claims against their son in a statement provided to Oxygen.com, saying “a war has been waged on our son.”
“He has been tried and convicted in the media based on information released solely from the alleged victim and her attorney, much of it through social media,” they said. “People have taken this information as factual, when it is not.”
They went on the say that the family had been “canceled” as a result of “salacious rumors” that “grew as fact.”
“He has been extorted, discriminated against, harassed and the subject of multiple and continuous threats of violence and death,” they said. “He has been released from his job and our entire family continues to receive horrific threats of violence and death.”
Araiza’s NFL agent also released a statement, provided to Oxygen.com through his attorney.
“The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the press,” the agent said. “I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”
Marc Carlos, the attorney for Ewaliko, has also denied the allegations against his client, according to ABC News. The attorney representing Leonard declined to comment on the case.
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