One day after The Detroit News reported that new Lions head coach Matt Patricia had been indicted on one count of aggravated sexual assault in 1996, Patricia defended himself in a seven-minute press conference on Thursday.
“I was innocent then, and I am innocent now. I was falsely accused of something that I did not do,” Patricia said. The NFL said Thursday it would review the incident.
In March 1996, Patricia and a teammate on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute football team were arrested on a charge of aggravated sexual assault while on spring break on South Padre Island, Texas. The two were indicted by a Texas grand jury, but the case was dismissed before going to trial after the survivor did not “feel she can face the pressures or stress of a trial,” according to court documents.
During the press conference, Patricia was asked whether he was in the hotel room on the night when the incident described in court documents occurred, or whether any consensual sex had taken place.
“Again, I did nothing wrong, and that’s all I’m going to say on that matter,” Patricia said.
Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford, general manager Bob Quinn, and team president Rod Wood released a statement Wednesday saying Patricia’s indictment did not come up in the background check conducted before he was hired in January.
“Based upon everything we have learned, we believe and have accepted Coach Patricia’s explanation and we will continue to support him,” the statement reads. “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.”
Patricia said that he appreciated the strong support from ownership and executives and that his job security is not in question. “I’m 100 percent the head coach of the Detroit Lions.”
Patricia said the indictment had never been an issue in his past job interviews and that it did not come up with the Lions.
“Interviewing for jobs in engineering right after the situation happened, it was never an issue,” he said. “It never came up as anything, because it was dismissed and I was innocent, so it has never been a part of any process that I’ve been involved with before.”