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Matt Araiza, attorneys discuss rape lawsuit dismissal, future NFL plans

Matt Araiza speaking to reporters at his attorney's office after being dropped from a civil lawsuit accusing him of rape, Dec. 13, 2023.
Matt Araiza speaking to reporters at his attorney's office after being dropped from a civil lawsuit accusing him of rape, Dec. 13, 2023.

Editor's note: This story contains details of a sexual assault that some readers may find disturbing.

Following his dismissal from a lawsuit accusing him of rape, former San Diego State punter Matt Araiza said Wednesday that "as of now," he plans to bring a lawsuit against his accuser's attorney, while also preparing to resume his path to the NFL.

At a news conference held one day after it was announced he would be dropped from the lawsuit filed against him and four other ex-Aztecs, Araiza, 23, said he believes his NFL career "is a when, not an if."

Nicknamed the "Punt God" in college, Araiza was drafted by the Buffalo Bills last year, but was cut after the allegations surfaced.


Araiza's agent, Joseph Linta, said in a statement, "I feel very strongly that any concerns about Matt are now completely eliminated. He can now continue his path of an NFL career. Each team can now evaluate him on his ability and not on what I knew to be false and fabricated allegations."

The agreement reached between Araiza and his accuser holds that Araiza will drop a defamation countersuit he filed earlier this year against the woman.

Araiza is also reserving the right to file litigation down the line against her attorney, Dan Gilleon.

Gilleon did not respond to a request for comment on a potential future lawsuit or the ongoing civil case against the other former SDSU players, which is set to go to trial in February.

Araiza alleged Wednesday that Gilleon "lied time and time again, specifically through the media. Had he just filed the lawsuit and not gone on a big media tour, it might be a different story. But the way he handled it was unbelievably unprofessional."


Araiza's attorneys said multiple turning points during the litigation led to his dismissal from the lawsuit, including the disclosure of sexually explicit videos allegedly depicting what occurred at the October 2021 house party when the woman said she was gang raped.

Another attorney for Araiza, Kristen Bush, said depositions from the woman's friends who were at the party revealed "night and day different" accounts from what the woman alleged occurred that night.

In her lawsuit, the woman identified in court as Jane Doe alleged she had sex with Araiza outside the home where the party occurred, then was led into a bedroom where a group of men raped her while she was heavily intoxicated.

Araiza did admit to having consensual sex with the woman, but maintained he was not present at the party when she alleges she was raped.

A few months after the woman's lawsuit was filed, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office announced it would not pursue criminal charges against Araiza or the other players.

While Araiza maintains his innocence, he said Wednesday that "I regret acting in a way where something bad could happen. I mean, you're going out and drinking and partying. There's a million things that could go wrong. Where my life was at the time and what I wanted my future to look like ... yeah, I wish I just stayed home."

Regarding the response to the allegations from prospective teams and the general public, Araiza said he hoped that there would not be "a rush to judgment" in situations where similar allegations surface.

"The day you file a lawsuit, you don't have to prove anything. Sometimes you don't have to prove anything for years," Araiza said, "Professional sports teams, as well as college teams, should have the backbone to say, `Look we take these allegations seriously, but until something is proven, we can't cut our guys."'

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