Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Bills release painter Matt Ariza after being accused of gang rape. CBC Sports

WARNING: This article contains graphic material and may affect people who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.

In a major public backlash, coupled with graphic details contained in a lawsuit alleging Matt Ariza’s involvement in the gang-rape of a teenager, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Bean has had the time Saturday to release the team’s rookie punter. There is no option left but.

The decision to cut ties with the 22-year-old represents a major reversal for the Bills, two days after they backed the player based on the findings of a “thorough investigation” of the allegations the team filed in the lawsuit.

And it comes less than a week after the Bills — while knowing he was the target of a police investigation — cleared the way for Ariza to take over punting duties by cutting veteran Matt Hacke, who returned on Monday.

“The last 48 hours have been very difficult for a lot of people. It’s been tough. And we sympathize with this whole situation, all the parties involved, this young lady, which she passed.” conference, while sitting with coach Sean McDermott.

“But at this point in time, we think moving on from Matt is the best move for everyone and he has to take care of this situation and focus on that. So, we’re going to split from there,” Bean said. Told.

Bean said the Bills were not aware of the allegations leveled against Ariza in the sixth round of the draft in April. And if they knew, he said, they would have removed it from thought.

Ariza’s release seems to ease a crisis that has rocked the two-time AFC East champion. McDermott was clearly upset when discussing the situation after a 21-0 pre-season loss to Carolina on Friday night.

“I’m hurt,” McDermott said. “It’s not easy to hear about everything I’ve heard over the past several hours. Haven’t slept much, to be honest with you.”

The Bills began to distance themselves from Ariza early Friday after she was barred from playing. Instead he watched the game with his teammates from an undisclosed location in the stadium rather than on the sidelines.

On Saturday, Ariza was not present for practice, although the Bills said she was on their roster, while at the same time her number 19 jersey was not available for sale on the Bills’ online store, having been listed earlier in the day. Was.

Ariza’s only comment since the lawsuit was filed came in a statement released by her agent during the game on Friday.

“The facts of the incident are not what has been shown in the trial or in the press. I look forward to setting the record at the earliest,” Ariza said.

In a text to the Associated Press, Ariza’s attorney, Keri Armstrong, defended her client, writing: “I’m sure she is deeply upset and disappointed that her career with the Bills ended not because she played poorly, but because Because of the false allegations leveled against him. Him by a young woman and his lawyer. I hope he returns to the NFL soon.”

Statement issued by the lawyer of the alleged victim

Dan Gillian, the alleged victim’s attorney, issued his own statement, saying the Bills ignored concerns raised about Ariza when they contacted the team in late July.

“The Buffalo Bills had no choice but to cut off their young punter after failing so badly in their response to our claim,” Gillian said. “They ignored us, [when] I had warned them that they could be avoided if they put their heads in the sand. That’s what supporters do.”

Bean said the team did its best to obtain as many details as possible, while noting many allegations were unavailable because the results of the San Diego police investigation had not been released. He said the team decided not to “make a decision too hasty” based on the information they had, while Ariza never changed her version of what happened.

“You want to give everyone as much due process as possible. Again, we’re not the judge and jury,” Bean said.

The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, accused Ariza and two San Diego state accomplices of raping a then 17-year-old girl at a Halloween party at an off-campus home where Ariza was staying.

The results of a police investigation are in the hands of the district attorney, although there is no timeline as to when a decision will be made on whether to charge or not.

Officials from two different teams told The Associated Press that they learned of Ariza’s involvement in an incident during the drafting process, but neither person knew the extent of the allegations. Officials from three other teams said they had no knowledge of the allegations against Ariza before the draft and only came to know about the incident on Thursday. Given the sensitivity of the matter, everyone spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Bean said it was unclear who — Araiza or the victim’s lawyer, Gillian — first informed the team of the allegations. As for the decision not to contact Gillian for more information, Bean said the team’s attorney, Catherine D’Angelo, “had heard what she had to say, and that’s when we began our process.”

Bean said that Ariza’s version of what happened never changed.

“We’re not perfect. But I can tell you, we tried to do what was right,” Bean said. “In the heart of our hearts, I can keep my head up at night knowing that I’ve tried to do what’s right.”

A person familiar with the situation told the AP that the Bills also informed the NFL about the incident. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the case, was not sure of the timeline.

The NFL declined to comment other than being aware of the matter.

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