SAN DIEGO — A new ruling in the civil case brought forward by Jane Doe against former San Diego State punter Matt Araiza could shed more light on the sexual acts that allegedly occurred at a house party near campus in October 2021.
Judge Matthew Braner ruled Friday to allow, under a protective order, the defendants in the case to have access to video tapes allegedly depicting the sexual acts at the center of the case involving the alleged rape of a minor by several former Aztec football players. The ruling allows for the videos to be used for discovery purposes in the civil case underway.
“It’s probably the most important evidence in the case,” Dick Semerdjian, Araiza’s attorney for his civil case, said to FOX 5 on Tuesday.
The videos were obtained by San Diego Police Department during their investigation — the same videos the district attorney’s office reviewed when they ultimately decided to not file any criminal charges against any of the players, including former SDSU and Buffalo Bills punter Araiza.
The videos are under a protective order, which allows the defendants a copy of the tapes on a thumb drive, which have to be destroyed after the case. While the attorneys do not have access to them yet, Semerdjian said he has personally viewed the photos at SDPD and claims Araiza is not in any of the videos.
Semerdjian claims the video depicts “that the plaintiff was a willing participant in the sexual acts that occurred that evening.” He added that Araiza was pleased the videos were released.
“I can say with confidence that Matt Araiza was not in those videos and I can also say with confidence that Matt Araiza was not at the house at the time those videos were taken,” Semerdjian said.
Two additional defendants were entered into the case a few weeks ago, but Semerdjian said he doesn’t believe they have been formally served yet.
The accuser’s attorneys have claimed the videos should not be released to the media or attorneys because they would depict child pornography since the girl was under 18 years old at the time of the incident.
Jane Doe’s attorney said in a statement, “We disagree with the Court’s decision on this highly sensitive issue and do plan to file a writ to the Court of Appeal on what we believe is a case of first impression.”
The civil trial is set for October but the plaintiff has up to 60 days to appeal. If they do appeal, it would likely push the trial date back even further.
As for Araiza’s football career, his attorney said, “We believe that NFL teams want him as their punter.”
“They have reached out to his agent seeking comment about Matt’s availability and the status of this lawsuit,” Semerdjian added. “And what is prohibiting and stopping Matt from becoming an NFL punter is this lawsuit. And we’ve asked for dismissal, we’ve asked for voluntary dismissal. We have not gotten one yet. We are still hopeful the plaintiff will dismiss this case — not only against Matt, but all the defendants — and move on with their life.”