The NFL said it will review Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia and the dismissed 1996 sexual assault case that was uncovered by the Detroit News on Wednesday.
The News reported that Patricia was indicted but did not face trial after the alleged victim declined to testify. The victim, then a 21-year-old college student, claimed that during spring break at South Padre Island in Texas, two football players from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute sexually assaulted her. One of the accused players was Patricia. He denied any wrongdoing in a statement on Wednesday night.
Team president Rod Wood and owner Martha Ford were not aware of the case when asked about it by reporters, despite saying they did a background check on Patricia.
“We will review the matter with the club to understand the allegations and what the club has learned,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in a statement to the Detroit Free Press on Thursday.
Patricia met with the media on Thursday and said he never brought it up during his interview with the team because he was innocent and the case was dismissed. Patricia again said Thursday he was falsely accused. In regards to any questions about his job security, Patricia said he was “100 percent” the coach of the Lions.
“I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name. 22 years ago, I was falsely accused of something very serious, very serious allegations,” Patricia said Thursday. “There were claims made about me that never happened. While I’m thankful on one level that the process worked and the case was dismissed, at the same time I was never given the opportunity to defend myself or to allow to push back with the truth to clear my name.
“This was something that was very traumatic to me when I was 21 years old. And once it was finally addressed, I tried to put it behind me. For those of you that are just getting to know me, and those who have known me for a long time, you should know that I was raised the right way by two amazing parents who taught me to know the difference between right and wrong, to stand up for what’s right and to stand up for those who have been wronged.
“I have two older sisters that taught me respect and love. I have always tried to protect them and keep them from harm. I’m a husband and a father to a wonderful and amazing family. I try to share those same values with them. I’m so thankful to my wife and my family for being supportive of me.”
Patricia portrayed himself as the party who was wronged. Patricia wouldn’t address specifics of what happened that night 22 years ago, repeatedly saying he did nothing wrong and was accused of something he didn’t do.
“Thankfully, truth is on my side,” Patricia said. “I lived with the mental torture of a situation where facts can be completely ignored or misrepresented with disregard to the consequence and pain it would cause for another person. I find it unfair and upsetting that someone would bring this claim up over two decades later for the sole purpose of hurting my family, my friends and this organization with the intention of trying to damage my character and credibility.
“I was innocent then, and I’m innocent now.”
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