Former Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza will not face charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault that took place last year.
The San Diego District Attorney's Office said Wednesday that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Araiza or any of his former San Diego State teammates that were allegedly involved in the incident.
"Ultimately, prosecutors determined it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges and there is no path to a potential criminal conviction. Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," the office said in a statement. "Given the understandable public interest in this case, the DA’s Office has a responsibility to inform the public about the process followed during the review and the conclusion reached under the law, while preserving the dignity of all individuals involved."
In August a civil suit was filed against then 21-year-old Arazia, alleging he had sex with a 17-year-old high school senior outside of an off-campus party in October 2021. After they had sex, the woman alleges that Araiza brought her inside the house where she was assaulted by multiple men for nearly 90 minutes.
"I am never surprised when a prosecutor does not file sexual assault charges when the victim was intoxicated,'' the woman's attorney, Dan Gilleon, said in a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports. "It’s a very rare case where the criminal justice system achieves anything satisfactory for the victim in a sexual assault.
"In the criminal system, the victim is just another witness. She is not represented by anyone. Prosecutors cannot file charges unless they think they can get a unanimous decision from all jurors who cannot vote to convict unless they’re convinced beyond any reasonable doubt. The lawsuit we filed is not in the criminal justice system.''
Araiza was relieved by the news.
"I am grateful that the District Attorney and the San Diego Police Department have discovered all the facts and found no criminal wrongdoing. I am excited to continue my NFL career," Araiza said on social media Wednesday night.
While criminal charges against Araiza and his former teammates will proceed, the woman is still moving forward with a civil lawsuit.
"It’s a different ball game here,'' Gilleon said. "The victim is represented, and the focus is on the harm defendants caused her. It is only in the civil system that a victim of sexual assault can achieve justice, and we plan to do just that.''
The Bills released Araiza just two days after the civil lawsuit was filed.
According to the lawsuit, the teen told her friends that she had been raped after she escaped the bedroom "bloody and crying." The next day she reported the incident to the San Diego Police Department. According to the police report, the teen's nose, belly button and ear piercings had all been pulled out and she was bleeding from her vagina.
Araiza confirmed having sex with the teen and that he had instructed her to get tested for STDs.
The San Diego District Attorney's office received the investigation from SDPD on Aug. 5. Over the next 124 days, the district attorney's office said, sexual assault experts, including District Attorney prosecutors and investigators, "meticulously analyzed all the evidence in the case, including over 35 taped witness interviews, the results of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam, DNA results, and evidence derived from 10 search warrants.''
The matter was investigated extensively before the DA's office decided not to press charges.
"It’s important to note that the criminal justice system and the civil court process are very different, with differing burdens of proof,'' the statement read. "The DA’s Office must rely on facts and evidence and not on civil court filings or other reports in the media if not verified by admissible evidence.
"The expert and experienced team of Deputy District Attorneys and DA Investigators reviewing this case have been thorough, thoughtful, and careful to take the constitutional and statutory rights of all involved into consideration before concluding that the DA’s Office cannot ethically file criminal charges in this matter.''
SDSU's internal investigation of the matter continues.
"The DA’s decision has no bearing on the university’s independent investigation,'' La Monica Everett-Haynes, the school's associate vice president and chief communications officer. told USA TODAY Sports by email and added, "SDSU’s responsibility is to identify and address any university policy violations."