Matt Araiza Update
Matt Araiza Update
Four terabytes of video and 35 witnesses clarify for prosecutors that Araiza left the party an hour before the alleged incident occurred.
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The man nicknamed “Punt God” could possibly return to kicking footballs very, very far in the National Football League.
Temecula, CA – San Diego State University alumnus; Ray Guy Award winner, and punting phenom Matt Araiza has had a year that would cause anybody to question life itself, after fighting desperately to save his reputation as a human being and his career as an athlete.
During October, 2021, Araiza was stunningly charged along with fellow football players Nowlin Ewaliko and Zavier Leonard with participating in a gang rape of a 17-year-old girl who had attended a house party. The charges made national headlines giving the entire country pause, with thoughts and prayers for the alleged victim who had reportedly survived a violent sexual assault.
Suddenly, the young man who had shattered NCAA football records, and who had just been drafted by the NFL Buffalo Bills, found himself in national headlines as public enemy No. 1. From the moment the alleged victim’s claims became known, Araiza, his teammates, and SDSU were tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion.
The timing of the alleged victim’s charges was devastating. Araiza had just signed with the Bills; the Aztecs had just opened the new Snapdragon Stadium, and SDSU football opened its 100th Anniversary season. An historic moment in SDSU history was eclipsed by unspeakable violence, and Aztec students, alumni and faculty were heartbroken.
In situations like this, the victim must be protected, and due process must be administered expeditiously to get to the bottom of what has happened so that justice can be served. This case, however, was conducted over ten months.
A focused 124-day investigation that included four terabytes of data, more than 35 taped witness interviews, a physical exam of the alleged victim and nine video clips of her sexual encounters that night led prosecutors to conclude that Araiza was not guilty of the charges that had been made.
In fact, it was concluded Araiza had left the party one hour before the alleged incident took place.
“He wasn’t even at the party anymore,” deputy district attorney Trisha Amador explained to the victim, according to reports. Amador later said, “All I know is that at that point, suspect Araiza is gone from the party.”
The #metoo movement has proven to be an important vessel for women to demand justice, and this is both important and empowering. One by-product, however, may be that society can assume the accused is guilty until proven innocent. Even more- it is even possible for an alleged victim to be an assailant if serious charges do not match the facts.
Consider the recent Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial. In the end, a jury found that Depp had proven that all of the elements of defamation for all three statements from Heard’s 2018 published op-ed, including her actual statements, were false. Amber Heard was subsequently found guilty of defaming Depp with actual malice.
Depp further reported that Heard had abused him, and confirmed that in March 2015, during an argument, Heard threw a bottle of vodka at him and severed the tip of Depp’s middle finger on his right hand, which had to be re-attached. These facts came to light as Depp fought to repair his life and career after Heard had openly accused Depp of abusing her.
Here, Depp’s case shall only serve to remind us that until all of the facts are weighed people cannot rush to judgment.
The United States is a nation governed by laws, not opinions. Due process must take place and the evidence be evaluated before conclusions can be drawn.
In addition to Araiza losing his job, family members were canceled, and at times some neighbors allegedly treated the family as though they were harboring a devious person.
Araiza noted, “It was a journey mentally, for sure. It had its ups and downs and there were days I was able to accept it and try to enjoy the little things in life. But then there were days when the big picture was consuming, and I could think about was what I lost.”
“Watching Bills’ games — that was brutal.”
Araiza is still being sued by the alleged victim, who recently offered to settle for $50,000. In light of the lawsuit, the alleged victim was notified by prosecutors, with detailed accounts, that Araiza was not present when the alleged gang rape occurred.
Araiza reportedly rejected the offer, indicating he will consider countersuing her. The Araiza family stated definite plans to sue her attorney.
Araiza still hopes to play in the NFL. After experiencing such a setback, he has begun to prepare himself for the possibility of pursuing a job in the software field if football doesn’t work out.
Matt also noted that a female family member of his is a sexual assault survivor, providing greater depth to his perspective in this case.
“There was a time in this country and in the world where a woman would come forward and no one would believe them, and that’s not right,” Araiza told USA TODAY. “But the pendulum has swung to the other end. And it feels like it’s instantly believed, and I don’t think that’s right, either. So having gone through both ends of the evil spectrum, that’s been tough. Yeah, it’s been really hard on my family. That’s what’s hurt me the most, for sure.”
Additional evidence has been released to the public, leading to more questions coming to light about this very serious case. Revelations from evidence made available to limited members of the press suggests that there is valid reason to further investigate the integrity of the charges that have been presented.
Yahoo Sports put out an article detailing that information made available by prosecutors adds new context to the alleged incident. Meanwhile, Outkick published a piece stating that Matt Araiza’s Case Is A Failure Of Journalism Across Most of Sports Media.
Also notable, the “Joy Behar of Sports,” controversy hustler Stephen A. Smith has been receiving demands to apologize along with Molly Qerim for speculative defamatory condemnation of Araiza.
With exculpatory evidence that Matt Araiza was not present despite the incredible charges mounted against him, the young man nicknamed “Punt God” could possibly return to kicking footballs very, very far in the National Football League. If given the opportunity to play- and it appears a second chance might be warranted- it will be exciting to see how many NFL records Araiza could break in the future.
The Mountain West Wire is committed to reporting the facts, while not taking any official position on matters involving civil and criminal charges.