Former Bills punter Matt Araiza, who was cut by the team once accusations of rape came to light, will not face criminal charges for the October 2021 incident.
Via Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN.com, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue criminal charges against Araiza or the other San Diego State players involved in the alleged gang rape.
Said the D.A.: “Ultimately, prosecutors determined it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges and there is no path to a potential criminal conviction. Prosecutors can only file charges when they ethically believe they can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
That’s a high-minded way of saying prosecutors hate to lose. And they do. The bar for a conviction is very high. If they don’t believe they can surpass it, they exercise their discretion to not pursue criminal charges.
Attorney Dan Gilleon, who represents the alleged victim, seemed to expect the outcome.
“I’m not surprised,” Gilleon said, via Tim Graham of TheAthletic.com. “The police rarely pay much attention to cases where the victim is intoxicated. Here, the police made it clear in January 2022 that they weren’t interested in the case. They made that clear by ghosting my client and keeping her in the dark. It was only the media attention that caused the police to commence a dog and pony show long enough for them to say they conducted a thorough investigation.”
The civil case against Araiza continues. The standard of proof in that setting is much, much lower. Basically, it’s a 51-49 evidentiary balance.
Because the incident allegedly happened before he was drafted by the Bills in April 2022, Araiza would be subject to no discipline, regardless of the outcome of the civil case. He could be signed by any other team at any time — and maybe a team will give him an opportunity now that the cloud of potential criminal liability has evaporated.
The question is whether the talent justifies the P.R. hit, especially in light of the position Araiza plays. And, yes, teams will definitely engage in that analysis when deciding whether to sign him.