SAN DIEGO — Former San Diego State and Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza has filed a defamation lawsuit against the student who accused him of sexually assaulting her at an off-campus house party in October 2021.
The complaint, which was filed with the court on Friday, alleges that the accuser — known as Jane Doe — knowingly made false statements about Araiza to San Diego police and media outlets with claims about how she was gang raped at the party while she was underage.
Araiza has denied the allegations, but he did admit to having consensual interactions with Doe at the house party. A nearly 200-page transcript of a meeting between prosecutors, Doe and her counsel on Dec. 7, 2022, his complaint says, clears him of wrongdoing.
The transcript, which was unsealed by a judge in May, details the discussion between the District Attorney prosecutors and Doe regarding their decision to not file criminal charges in the case.
According to prosecutors who had pieced together a timeline of the night, Araiza had left the party about an hour before Doe, who was 17 years old at the time, claims the rape happened. Prosecutors also said video evidence of the accuser engaging in sexual interactions does not identify or place Araiza in the bedroom where the alleged rape took place.
In the filing for his defamation suit against his accuser, Araiza claims that Doe continued to make statements about his involvement despite the discussion during the meeting.
“[She] made these false statements notwithstanding her lengthy and detailed meeting with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office just five months earlier,” the complaint read.
These allegations, the complaint added, “have lowered [Araiza] in the eyes of the community, deterred third persons from associating with him, and permanently damaged him in his profession and occupation.”
Araiza had been released from the Bills in August 2022, following him being named in the sexual assault allegations.
In a conversation with FOX 5 in May, the football player discussed the case and his intention to pursue a countersuit, specifically against Doe’s lawyer Dan Gilleon.
“I would be willing to end this and waive my right to sue her and countersue her and allow us both to move on with our lives, but I will never waive the right to sue Gilleon,” he said. However, Gilleon was not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit filed on Friday.
When reached for comment by FOX 5, Doe’s attorney said it was “more victim blaming” from Araiza and his legal team.
The defamation lawsuit is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages of an undisclosed amount. A conference about the lawsuit is scheduled for next year.
The next hearing in the civil case against Araiza and the two other SDSU football players, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, is set for Aug. 4 at 11 a.m., followed by a discovery hearing on Aug. 25. The civil jury trial is set to begin in October.
Separate proceedings are also underway for Ewaliko, who was arrested by SDPD earlier this year on suspicion of possession of child pornography based on digital evidence gathered during the course of the gang rape investigation.
Ewaliko pleaded not guilty at a hearing in March. He is expected to undergo readiness exams this month, according to the district attorney.