A civil lawsuit filed last summer against Bills punter Matt Araiza resulted in the team abruptly cutting ties with the sixth-round draft pick. While the lawsuit still continues, prosecutors who explored criminal charges concluded that Araiza left a party before an alleged gang rape occurred.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports has the details.
As Wetzel explains it, authorities investigated the claims for 10 months. No prosecution was pursued. Wetzel obtained and reviewed a 200-plus-page transcript of a 110-minute meeting between prosecutors and the alleged victim and her lawyers. Prosecutors explained during the meeting the determination, based on the available evidence, that Araiza had left the home at which the alleged gang rape occurred an hour before it happened.
That ultimately has no relevance to the civil lawsuit, given that a much lower standard of proof applies. For criminal cases, where the prosecution ultimately must produce proof beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt, discretion often is exercised to avoid taking on a case that would be, if presented to a jury, rife with doubt.
For Araiza’s defense of the civil suit, evidence that persuaded prosecutors not to pursue charges could be used to persuade a jury that he has no liability to the alleged victim. The standard of proof is “preponderance of the evidence” (i.e., more likely than not).
Araiza remains a free agent, able to sign with any team at any time. It remains to be seen whether Wetzel’s reporting breaks the ice, or whether teams will choose to wait for the civil lawsuit to conclude before considering signing Araiza.