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Alleged rape victim files lawsuit against three SDSU football players

One of the defendants, Matt Araiza, was drafted into the NFL and is a punter for the Buffalo Bills.

SAN DIEGO — A lawsuit has been filed against three current and former San Diego State University football players, alleging they gang-raped a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party in October 2021.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include former Aztecs punter, Matt Araiza, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills; Zavier Leonard, who is a current member of the Aztecs team; and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko, who is a former member of the San Diego State team.

Also named as a defendant is SLJ, LLC, the landlord owner of the house where the alleged rape took place.

Attorney Dan Gilleon said he filed the complaint Thursday on behalf of the now 18-year-old alleged victim.

The lawsuit seeks damages for rape, gender violence, false imprisonment, and property liability.

WATCH FULL INTERVIEW:  Attorney for former SDSU Aztec, current NFL player Matt Araiza discusses alleged rape 

The San Diego County District Attorney currently is reviewing the case for possible criminal charges, following a nine-month investigation by San Diego police.

The alleged victim first spoke out to CBS 8 in July. CBS 8 is not identifying her because she is an alleged victim of rape.  She is referenced as “Jane Doe” in the newly filed complaint.

RELATED: Teen accusing San Diego State football players of rape speaks out

The teenager said she was intoxicated when she arrived with three girlfriends to the party in the late evening of October 16 at a house on Rockford Drive near SDSU.

“Doe and her friends entered the Residence through the side gate which led into the backyard, where people were playing drinking games and socializing,” according to the lawsuit.

The teenager previously told CBS 8 she had never met any of the football players in attendance at the party.

RELATED: SDSU rape investigation goes to DA, police calls to ‘party house’ released

The alleged victim became separated from her friends and was approached by Araiza who offered her a drink, the lawsuit alleged.

“(S)he accepted the drink and began consuming it.  Upon information and belief, this drink not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,” the complaint said.

In the crowded backyard, Araiza “told her to perform oral sex on him.  She got on her knees and complied,” the lawsuit said.  Araiza allegedly also had sex with her in the backyard, according to the complaint.

He then led her into a bedroom with at least three other men, including Leonard and Ewaliko, according to the lawsuit, where the teenager “went in and out of consciousness while she was being raped.”

“She saw a light in her periphery, as if someone was taking a video using a cell phone,” the lawsuit alleged.

The complaint said the girl was raped for “about an hour and a half until the party was shut down,” when the alleged victim “stumbled out of the room bloody and crying.”

The young woman told CBS 8 she spent the day recovering from the attack on October 17 and reported the rape to SDPD on October 18.

She said she underwent Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) DNA testing at Children’s Hospital.

About 10 days later, “Detectives from the Sex Crimes Unit arranged recorded ‘pretext’ calls with men they had determined were present in the room when the rape occurred,” according to the complaint.

During a telephone call on October 28, 2021, Araiza “confirmed having sex with Doe, even telling her that she should get tested for STDs,” the complaint detailed.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including special and general damages, punitive damages, civil penalties, and attorney’s fees.

A spokesperson for the Buffalo Bills emailed CBS 8 the following statement:

“We were recently made aware of a civil complaint involving Matt from October 2021.  Due to the serious nature of the complaint, we conducted a thorough examination of this matter. As this is an ongoing civil case, we will have no other comment at this point.”

To read the entire complaint filed in court, click here.

WATCH RELATED: SDSU rape investigation goes to DA, police calls to ‘party house’ released 

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