Former NFL Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza has been cleared of criminal charges in relation to the alleged gang rape that occurred last year.
Prosecutors, who conducted a 10-month investigation into the case, determined that Araiza had left the home where the incident took place an hour before it occurred. This information was revealed in a 200-plus-page transcript of a meeting between prosecutors and the alleged victim and her lawyers, obtained by Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel.
Evidence instead show that the accuser was having consensual sex with several other men that night.
While the criminal charges have been dropped, the civil lawsuit filed against Araiza is still ongoing. The standard of proof in a civil case is lower than in a criminal case, as the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish liability based on a “preponderance of the evidence.” However, the evidence that persuaded prosecutors not to pursue criminal charges could be used in Araiza’s defense in the civil case.
Araiza, who was released by the Buffalo Bills following the filing of the civil lawsuit, remains a free agent and is eligible to sign with any team. It is unclear whether Wetzel’s reporting will influence teams’ decisions regarding Araiza or if they will wait for the conclusion of the civil lawsuit before considering signing him.
The case highlights the challenges and complexities surrounding allegations of sexual assault and the differing standards of proof in criminal and civil cases. It remains to be seen how the legal proceedings will unfold and what impact they will have on Araiza’s future in professional football.