The Buffalo Bills say they conducted a “thorough investigation” into the gang-rape allegations against rookie quarterback Matt Araiza, so all is well and everyone can relax.
Because NFL teams have such a great history of taking violence against women seriously. Especially when it involves players who believe they can help their team.
As more details emerged Friday, the attorney for the girl suing Araiza and two other former San Diego State football players for rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment said the Bills did not speak with him as part of their “investigation. It is clear that what the team did was neither a thorough nor a real examination.
Most likely, the Bills started and stopped with the date the then 17-year-old girl said the assault took place. Because she said in her lawsuit that it took place during a Halloween party last October when Araiza was still at San Diego State, it is not covered by the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Which means Buffalo’s “examination” probably went something like this:
“So the NFL can’t disqualify him because it happened before he entered the league, right?”
“OK. Matt, is any of this true?”
“Alright then, we’re good!”
No doubt the Bills will take exception to that designation. But the circumstances of this seem as murky as the New York Giants and Chicago Bears’ “investigations” into domestic abuse allegations against Josh Brown and Ray McDonald, respectively, to say nothing of the “enormous amount of time” they spent the Cleveland Browns for control. Deshaun Watson.
We all know how well they turned out.
Contrary to Araiza’s lawyer’s claim that it was a “shakedown” because Araiza is an NFL player, the girl immediately told her friends that she had been gang-raped. She reported it to police the next day, made a rape kit and participated in phone calls with the men she believed assaulted her to help detectives gather information.
That may explain why Araiza, a unanimous All-American last season who has been dubbed “The Punt God,” fell in the NFL draft, not going as high as the sixth round.
But even if the Bills weren’t aware of the allegations when it was made — their statement Thursday night was sly, saying they were “only recently made aware of a civil complaint” — the girl’s attorney the Athletic’s Tim Graham said Friday that he had contacted the Bills almost a month ago.
Dan Gilleon told Graham that he sent assistant general counsel Kathryn D’Angelo an email on July 31 and then had a “lengthy phone call” with her the next day. Asked if the Bills spoke with him – or his client – further during their “investigation,” Gilleon said, “Absolutely not.”
“I never heard from them again,” Gilleon said.
To be clear, this took place long before the Bills cut veteran shortstop Matt Haack last week, clearing the way for Araiza to be their starter. That meant Bills coach Sean McDermott knew all the graphic and gruesome details detailed in the lawsuit when he described Araiza as a “wonderful kid” during an appearance earlier this week on the “Pardon My Take” podcast.
According to the lawsuit, Araiza ordered a visibly intoxicated girl, who had just told him where she went to high school, to give him oral sex. He led her to a bedroom, where several men took turns raping her and may have filmed it. He voluntarily admitted, after a call was overheard by police, that he has a sexually transmitted disease — chlamydia, to be specific — and recommended that the girl get tested.
The girl also said in the lawsuit that the attack left her bruised and bloodied and that she had puncture wounds to her nose, ears and belly button.
Not exactly the actions of someone I would describe as a ‘cool kid’. But NFL teams have proven every chance they get that violence against women isn’t necessarily exclusionary.
When they say they’ve done a “thorough review,” what they really mean is that they’ve dug deep enough to decide if a player’s talent makes him worth it.
The Bills knew about these allegations long enough to fire Araiza if they wanted to. The truth is, they care about what he might do with a football, not what he might have done to a high school girl.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armor on Twitter @nrarmour.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bills say they looked into rape claim against Matt Araiza. Don’t buy it.