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The Buffalo Bills released punter Matt Araiza in the wake of accusations he raped a 17-year-old girl last year.
The 22-year-old, who has earned the nickname “Punt God” with his superb leg, is one of three people accused of the gang rape at San Diego State University while he was a student.
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“We tried to be thorough and thoughtful and not rush to judgment, and I would say it’s not easy. You’re trying to put facts around a legal situation sometimes with limited information,” Bills General Manager Brandon Beane told reporters on Saturday, via the Washington Post.
The lawsuit claims that Araiza had sex with the girl, who was in high school at the time, outside a home at a Halloween party, according to the Los Angeles Times. She was then brought into a bedroom where she was repeatedly raped while going in and out of consciousness.
He and his lawyers deny the accusations.
BILLS PUNTER MATT ARAIZA NOT SUBJECT TO NFL PERSONAL CONDUCT POLICY AMID RAPE ALLEGATIONS: REPORT
“The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press,” Araiza said in a statement. “I look forward to quickly setting the record straight.”
“I 100% do not believe that he ever forcibly raped this girl or had sex with her while she was passed out or drunk or anything like that,” his attorney Kerry Armstrong told The Associated Press. “It’s unfortunate that she’s filed a civil suit. I think it’s a cash grab.”
However, the GM said that “our culture in Buffalo is more important than winning football games.”
“There are many things that we could not get our hands on. This was about letting Matt go handle his situation,” he added.
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Araiza was held out of the team’s final preseason game.