Bills release punter Araiza after rape allegations

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The Buffalo Bills have released punter Matt Araiza after he was accused of rape in a civil lawsuit.

The 22-year-old was drafted in the sixth round by the Bills and caught attention in pre-season with an 82-yard punt against the Denver Broncos.

A civil lawsuit against Araiza and two of his former San Diego State teammates was filed on Friday, accusing the trio of rape, gender violence and false imprisonment against a 17-year-old in October last year – which is below the age of consent in California.

On Saturday, Bills general manager Brandon Beane confirmed the decision to release the punter.

"This is bigger than football. Let's just step back and [let Araiza] go handle this. That's what we thought was most important," he said.

"With the serious nature and allegations, and we just can't, we don't have the means to put all the facts together.

"There's multiple versions of what happened, and [Sean McDermott's] a football coach, I'm a GM. We don't have access to everything, and so that's more important than playing football. And so, we want Matt to focus on that."

Araiza released a statement on Friday denying the allegations, saying: "The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press. I look forward to quickly setting the record straight."

The departure of Araiza leaves the Bills without a punter in the squad, having released Matt Haack earlier in the week, while quarterback Matt Barkley punted on four occasions in this weekend's 21-0 defeat against the Carolina Panthers.