The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)
Patricia says he was ‘falsely accused’ of assault
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia said Thursday he was “falsely accused” in a 1996 sexual assault allegation that resurfaced this week, and he indicated that the matter has not been an issue as he has climbed from job to job in the years since.
Patricia held a brief news conference one day after a Detroit News report that he and a friend were indicted 22 years ago by a Texas grand jury on one count each of aggravated sexual assault. They were accused of assaulting a woman on South Padre Island. The accuser did not testify and the case was dismissed. “I was innocent then, and I am innocent now,” Patricia said.
The Lions said Wednesday night that a pre-employment background check did not turn up the incident. The team said Patricia was 21 at the time and on spring break in Texas. The Lions said they were standing by Patricia.
Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford, general manager Bob Quinn and president Rod Wood were at Thursday’s news conference but did not speak.
“I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name. Twenty-two years ago, I was falsely accused of something very serious,” Patricia said . “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. I was falsely accused of something that I did not do.”
The Detroit News, citing a March 1996 story in the Brownsville (Texas) Herald, said Patricia and a friend were accused of entering the hotel room where the woman was sleeping and sexually assaulting her. The men were arrested later that night and released on bond, according to the story and court records.
The indictment came that August, but the case was eventually dismissed. The alleged victim did not feel she could “face the pressures or stress of a trial.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the team wasn’t aware of the legal case. “We have always been confident in Matt’s character and recommended him highly to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions,” Belichick released in a statement.