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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Matt Patricia vehemently denies wrongdoing in old sexual assault case

Matt Patricia

Matt Patricia fiercely defended himself in a statement issued on Wednesday night in response to news surfacing about a sexual assault charge he faced in 1996.

“As someone who was falsely accused of this very serious charge over 22 years ago, and never given the opportunity to defend myself and clear my name, I find it incredibly unfair, disappointing, and frustrating that this story would resurface now with the only purpose being to damage my character and reputation. I firmly maintain my innocence, as I have always done,” Patricia said in a statement issued by the Detroit Lions.

“I would never condone any of the behavior that was alleged and will always respect and protect the rights of anyone who has been harassed or is the victim of violence. My priorities remain the same – to move forward and strive to be the best coach, teacher, and man that I can possibly be.”

On Wednesday, the Detroit News published an article about a sexual assault charge Patricia faced in 1996. According to the story, Patricia and another one of his Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute football teammates/fraternity brothers, Greg Dietrich,, were accused of bursting into a room and taking turns sexually assaulting a woman they had met during a spring break trip to South Padre Island in Texas. The woman identified Patricia and Dietrich as the assailants. The two were arrested and later released on bond.

The men were charged with sexual assault and indicted by a grand jury, but they never stood trial. Records show the woman did not want to stand trial.

Patricia later graduated from RPI and went into coaching. He was most recently the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots before landing the Detroit Lions’ head coaching job. The Lions expressed their support for Patricia in a statement on Wednesday night.

“Responding to a published report this evening from the Detroit News, The Detroit Lions are aware that a criminal charge involving sexual assault was brought against Matt Patricia in 1996. Matt was 21 at the time and on spring break in Texas. The charge was dismissed by the prosecutor at the request of the complaining individual prior to trial. As a result, Coach Patricia never had the opportunity to present his case or clear his name publicly in a court of law. He has denied that there was any factual basis for the charge. There was no settlement agreement with the complaining individual, no money exchanged hands and there was no confidentiality agreement. In discussions today with Lions management, the reporter involved acknowledged that the allegations have not been substantiated.

“As an organization, The Detroit Lions take allegations regarding sexual assault or harassment seriously. Coach Patricia was the subject of a standard pre-employment background check which did not disclose this issue. We have spoken to Coach Patricia about this at length as well as the attorney who represented him at the time. Based upon everything we have learned, we believe and have accepted Coach Patricia’s explanation and we will continue to support him. We will continue to work with our players and the NFL to further awareness of and protections for those individuals who are the victims of sexual assault or violence.”

The statement was attributed to Martha Ford, Bob Quinn and Rob Wood.

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