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Witness: Matt Araiza 'left the party' before sex acts began in bedroom

Sex videos recorded inside the house show other players but not Araiza.
Credit: CBS 8

SAN DIEGO — A witness recalled that former San Diego State University punter, Matt Araiza, left the party shortly after having sex with a 17-year-old girl on the side of a College Area house in October 2021, according to an audio recording of a meeting last year inside the offices of the San Diego County District Attorney.

After having sex with Araiza, a friend of the teenager recalled that she “appeared to be having fun and that the encounter on the side of the house with Matt, suspect Araiza, was consensual,” Deputy District Attorney Trisha Amador said during the meeting, recorded by a DA investigator on December 7, 2022.

The meeting, held in a conference room on the 12th floor of the DA’s office, was set up to inform the teenager and her attorney, Anna Yum, that the DA would not file criminal charges against the SDSU football players involved.

“He’s alleged to have left the party at 12:30 [a.m.]... so he wasn’t even at the party anymore,” Amador said during the meeting.

Just before 1 a.m., the first of several cellphone videos were recorded inside the house, depicting the teenager engaged in sex acts with four different players, according to the DA recording.

Araiza was not seen in any of those sex videos recorded inside the house, Amador said during the meeting.

By serving search warrants, investigators obtained approximately nine sex videos taken during the 2021 Halloween party, according to the DA meeting audio, including one video in the living room and several more recorded in a bedroom.

The first video, recorded at 12:55 a.m. on October 17, 2021, depicts former SDSU player Nowlin "Pa'a" Ewaliko having sex with the teenager on a couch in the living room.

The video was shot from a “point of view” angle, as described during the meeting by DA Investigator Ted Mansour.

A witness noticed what was happening on the couch and left the room.

“They didn’t want to watch it. They purposely closed the door because they didn’t want to witness what was happening,” Mansour said during the DA meeting.

“Based upon what’s on the video, there are no indications that I can legally charge or say that there’s force involved,” Amador told the alleged victim and her attorney.

“Other witnesses at the time said there’s not an intoxication level at that point,” Amador continued.

Mansour then described the series of videos recorded inside the bedroom “closer to 1:30 a.m.” as the party continued into the early morning hours.

“There’s nothing in the videos that sound like you’re saying stop or this hurts or anything like that,” Mansour informed the alleged victim.

Mansour said the teenager also did not appear to be passed out or intoxicated.

The videos recorded in the bedroom depict two men engaged in sexual intercourse with the teen, including SDSU football player Zavier Leonard, according to the DA meeting audio. 

“It’s a point of view of having sex, again,” Amador said, describing the bedroom video involving Leonard.

“You are not passed out in the video," Amador said.

The second man seen in the bedroom video was not identified during the DA meeting because he was not one of the three defendants named in an ongoing lawsuit filed by the young woman.

The DA investigator said Ewaliko was again seen performing a sex act on the teen in one of the bedroom videos.

Later that night, a witness reported seeing a fourth man inside the bedroom having sex with the teen. During the DA meeting, prosecutors did not identify that man because his name had not been made public.

Attorney Dan Gilleon represents the alleged victim in the civil action filed in August against Araiza, Ewaliko, and Leonard. The lawsuit alleges the teenager was sexually assaulted and gang raped while intoxicated. It seeks damages for rape, false imprisonment, and gender violence, among other causes of action.

The lawsuit is ongoing.

Gilleon was absent during the December 7 meeting at the DA’s office. Instead, co-counsel Anna Yum was there to represent the alleged victim.

Yum is no longer associated with the case.

In response to CBS 8 inquiries, Gilleon said the witness who claimed Araiza left the party was Araiza’s “buddy.” And, “In a pretext call, Matt Araiza suggests he was there when the party ended,” according to Gilleon.

“The videos do not prove Matt Araiza was never present, just that the cameras did not capture his image during the few seconds each lasted,” Gilleon wrote in a recent opposition motion, filed in a case where Araiza's attorneys are seeking access to the video evidence.

Araiza was cut by the Buffalo Bills days after the lawsuit was filed.

During the meeting at the DA’s office, Amador repeatedly explained why statutory rape charges were not being filed, even though the girl was 17 at the time of the incident.

“The defendant is not guilty of this crime if he reasonably believed that the other person was 18 or older,” Amador said during the meeting.

“A witness in the house gave a statement saying that at least one point in the party, you had made a statement telling people at the party you were 18. Another witness at the party, a different one, says they specifically heard you say you were 18,” Amador explained to the young woman.

Amador also ruled out charges of “rape of an intoxicated person” and forcible rape, referring to some of the young woman’s actions seen on the videotaped evidence.

When Amador informed the alleged victim that the DA’s office was not filing charges in the case, the teen said, “That’s bullshit,” and asked Amador and her investigator to leave the room temporarily.

A short time later, the then 18-year-old asked to view the cell phone videos, which the DA investigator described as “very short clips” and “all under 10 seconds.”

Amador and the investigator then briefed the alleged victim on the graphic content of the videos, warning her about the specific sex acts depicted.

The teenager, her attorney, and a victim’s advocate at the meeting then reaffirmed their request to see the video. 

The DA investigator excused himself from the room while the videos were played without sound.

Following long sections of silence on the audio recording, the teenager eventually asked Amador to stop the video playback.

Less than an hour later, around noon on December 7, 2022, the DA’s office put out a news release announcing no criminal charges would be filed in the case.

As the civil case continues, a motion hearing is set for July 14, where attorneys representing Matt Araiza seek discovery concerning the plaintiff's past sexual conduct.

Araiza’s attorneys also have filed a separate motion, seeking to unseal evidence seized through search warrants in the case, including cell phone tracking data and video evidence.  A hearing on that motion is set for April 27.

WATCH RELATED: Judge orders search warrants unsealed in SDSU case:


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