Lawyer for a teenage girl who has accused at least three former and current San Diego State football players — including a now NFL player — raped her at an off-campus party in 2021 sharing photos Friday of the injuries she allegedly suffered during the incident.
Photos and videos show bruises on the 17-year-old girl’s neck and legs, according to her lawyer Dan Gilleon, who said the photos were taken last October days after the incident at a house less than a mile from campus.
All-American Matt Araiza – whose playing earned him the nickname “Punt God” and draft selection by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills – is accused in the lawsuit of having sex with the girl, who he knows is a high school student.
According to the lawsuit, they had sex outside a party before he brought her into the house, where she was allegedly gang-raped. Current SDSU students Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko are also named as defendants in a lawsuit filed Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court, along with SLJ LLC, the company that owns the residence where the alleged assault took place.
Friday, Gilleon also released a photo via Twitter showing what supposedly the girl’s diary entry handwritten in the days following the alleged assault. They seem to detail his interview with the SDPD and what he remembers from that night.
“I feel like I have to document how I feel just to get through it but I don’t even know how I feel. Part of me can’t help but feel guilty and wonders if I can stop it,” a part of the entry reads.
The alleged victim’s father sent NBC 7 a statement on Friday that his daughter and their family had been let down by police and the university.
“After more than 10 months since the incident and filing of reports with the SDPD and SDSUPD and more than 2 and a half months of media coverage, SDPD has not made any arrests, SDSU has not made any updates to their Title IX investigation, and the DA has not filed criminal charges,” he said. . “In an effort to protect other women from this happening again, to hold those who participate accountable, and to continue the healing process and try and get some sort of control where she doesn’t have it, my daughter feels it’s time to file a civil suit. victims to try and find justice is a disappointment, especially as our family put our trust and confidence in the system for so long while the participants were free to continue their normal lives.”
Former SDSU All-American Matt Araiza is one of three former and current Aztec players accused of raping a teenager last fall. Dave Summers of NBC 7 spoke with the victim’s attorney about the complaint.
Kerry Armstrong, Araiza’s attorney, told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that he had not reviewed the complaint but called the rape allegations false. He said his investigators spoke to witnesses from the party who contradict the allegations against Araiza. NBC 7 reached out for further comment but received no response.
Late Friday, Araiza made his first public comments on the lawsuit, telling The Athletic and ESPN, “The facts of the incident are not as depicted in the lawsuit or in the press. I hope to set this record straight.”
Following the Bills preseason final on Friday, head coach Doug McDermott told Bills.com, “This is not a situation that I or we take lightly. It is very serious. I understand the sensitivity of the situation and it’s clear we have work to do to continue to look for ways to improve.” know this. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to those involved.”
A lawyer for Ewaliko said it was all an attempt by the 17-year-old lawyer to drum up pressure on the DA to file criminal charges. And he questioned the girl’s credibility.
“We saw some bruises; we don’t know who was responsible for it,” said attorney Marc Carlos. “However, when you have a suspected victim say they were both in and out of consciousness, you kind of question the credibility of the memory at the time because you are selectively remembering things you may or may not have experienced.”
Attorney Leonard Jamahl Kersey had the following NBC 7 statement Friday.
“It is too early to comment, the matter is still under investigation. No conclusions have to be reached, regardless of how alarming the allegations may be.”
The lawsuit claims Araiza “could observe that [the teen] very drunk” and handed him a drink which he did not see him pouring. “Based on information and belief, this drink contains not only alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,” the complaint alleges.
The teenager was allegedly taken to a room that had been occupied by Leonard, Ewaliko and at least one other person. She was in and out of consciousness when the men raped her, according to the complaint, but she remembers seeing what appeared to be a light. phone in his peripheral vision as if someone was recording a video.
The complaint said the alleged rape lasted about an hour and a half and ended when the party closed. The teenager, who has since turned 18, reported the alleged incident to the SDPD the next day, the complaint said.
The complaint also claims that Araiza confirmed that she had sex with the teenager over the phone between the two the following day, and informed the teenager that she had tested positive for chlamydia and suggested that she be tested.
“He apologized,” Gilleon said in an interview Thursday.
At the time of the alleged incident, Araiza was 21 years old and Leonard and Ewaliko were around 18, according to the complaint. Leonard is registered as a freshman and Ewaliko is no longer on the team, according to the university’s roster.
Araiza won the Ray Guy Award, which is given annually to the best college football player, in his final season at SDSU. He graduated from Rancho Bernardo High School in 2017.
NBC 7 has also reached out to Buffalo Bills saying that “due to the serious nature of the complaint, we are conducting a thorough examination of the matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The NFL said it was aware of the matter but declined to comment.
The San Diego Police Department closed its criminal investigation into the alleged incident in early August without elaborating on what, if anything, was found. Recent requests for comment have not been answered.
The accuser’s father is now demanding accountability and justice for his daughter. Artie Ojeda of NBC 7 has a story.
No arrests have been made, and a spokesman for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday said the SDPD investigation was under review, adding, “there is no time limit for how long.”
Days before the SDPD closed its investigation, and nine months after the alleged rape, SDSU President Adela de la Torre announced the university was launching its own university. A statement from SDSU sent Thursday said the university’s investigation was ongoing.
“The university takes allegations of sexual assault seriously. As this involves an active university investigation, and in light of the privacy law (FERPA), the university cannot provide specific details regarding its investigation. However, SDSU’s independent investigation process remains active and ongoing. continue to follow California State University system-wide policies: CSU’s Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Conduct, Sexual Exploitation, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation (Non-Discrimination Policy) If a student is found to have violated the student’s code of conduct, as a result of a thorough investigation, disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension, dismissal or expulsion.”
A letter to students Friday said because their investigation was still active, “the university is unable to provide specific details.”
SDSU has been criticized for the time it took to start their own investigation into the alleged rape, but the university said they were suspending the investigation following a request from San Diego police.
“The SDPD requested on October 19, 2021, and in subsequent letters that SDSU — including UPD and its Title IX offices — did not take any action that could jeopardize the SDPD’s criminal investigation, including launching a university-led investigation,” a university spokesperson told NBC. 7 in e-mail.
On July 22, SDPD gave SDSU the green light to begin its investigation, according to the school.
“Since we learned of the alleged assault, our only interest is justice and legal accountability for anyone who violates the law,” de la Torre wrote. “As I have stated before: No one is above the law, and anyone found to have violated the law and university policies must suffer the consequences.”
The teenager’s father told NBC 7 that the university investigation felt to him like a “public relations move.”
On Friday, he also criticized the prosecutor’s office for the lack of criminal charges in a written statement to NBC 7, which partly said:
“In an effort to protect other women from this happening again, to hold those who participate accountable, and to continue the healing process and try and get some sort of control where she doesn’t have it, my daughter feels it’s time to file a civil suit. victims to try and find justice is a disappointment, especially as our family put our trust and confidence in the system for so long while the participants were free to continue their normal lives.”
NBC 7 contacted the District Attorney’s office for comment again on Friday, but has yet to receive a response.
SDSU has launched an investigation into the alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl by five soccer players. Nicole Gomez of NBC 7 explains why the school is now investigating the October 2021 case.