Bills head coach Sean McDermott said he had learned new information in the last day about the rape allegations facing his passenger, Matt Araiza, and that he wanted to learn more.
“I would say there are some [new information in the last 24 hours], and I’m not going to deny that, and that’s why I have a lot more work to do on this,” McDermott told reporters after Buffalo’s 21-0 pre-season loss to the Panthers in the Carolinas on Friday. “I’m more trying to be solution-oriented now. And that’s where I’m headed. And that’s where we have to go.”
However, McDermott refused to disclose when he was told that Araiza had been accused of rape; refuses to reveal any insight into Araiza’s character; refused to state whether he was pleased with the team’s response to the allegations; refused to state whether Araiza would remain with the team; and refused to state whether he believed Araiza’s denial.
“It’s a matter of trying to find the truth at the end of the day,” McDermott said. “That’s the goal: Find the truth and do the right thing.”
During the game, Araiza – who did not play because McDermott said he “didn’t feel like it was right” to play him – released his first public statement since becoming accused of participating in the gang-rape of a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party last year while he was at San Diego State University.
“The facts of the incident are not as depicted in the lawsuit or in the press,” Araiza said in statements to various media. “I hope to set the record straight.”
According to The Athleticthat Bills was alerted to gang rape allegations last month — after they drafted Araiza but before they released Matt Haack, a deal that left Araiza the only player on the team’s roster, but ensured him a place. On Friday, reserve quarterback Matt Barkley filled in.
In a statement, the team said it was “conducting a thorough examination of the matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no further comment at this time.”
McDermott, who says he’s been sleep deprived and learning more about the issue since the allegations went public, has persistently said there’s “more work to be done.” When asked if he was satisfied with the way the team handled the allegations, he added, “We have work to do.”
Araiza, known as the “God of Punt” for his broken leg, faces a lawsuit filed in the San Diego County Superior Court. The 22-year-old is accused – along with former Aztec teammates Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko – of rape, gender violence and false imprisonment. In the lawsuit, the alleged victim said she was in and out of consciousness but “remembers the times when the men took turns attacking her.”
Kerry Armstrong, who served as Araiza’s attorney, to the Los Angeles Times“This is a search because he is now with the Buffalo Bills.”