The Detroit Lions are under major scrutiny over the organization’s background checks somehow missing Matt Patricia’s 1996 sexual assault indictment.
Update: The NFL is conducting its own investigation on Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions. Original story:
DetroitNews.com has uncovered a 1996 sexual assault indictment levied against Matt Patricia and his then-teammate Greg Dietrich, which both men never stood trial for.
Somehow, someway, the Detroit Lions missed this alarming piece of information in their background check of Patricia prior to hiring him as head coach. We live in a football world where teams want to know everything and anything about players, especially ones declaring for the NFL Draft, but evidently, coaches aren’t held to the same standard. It also took Deadspin 30 seconds to find Patricia’s recored. Not a good look,
It is unclear if Patricia former employer the New England Patriots knew anything about his rape accusation as of press time.
On the evening of March 15, 1996, the woman told police that two men burst into the upscale hotel room where she was sleeping and took turns violently sexually assaulting her, according to court records and a news account at the time. They were arrested, charged and later indicted by a grand jury on one count of aggravated sexual assault — but they never stood trial and were not convicted.
One of the indicted men was 21-year-old Matt Patricia, who was hired as the head coach of the National Football League’s Detroit Lions in February. The other, his friend and captain of RPI’s football team, Greg Dietrich, 22.
When approached by The Detroit News, team president Rod Wood initially said “I don’t know anything about this” — but hours later said his review of the situation only reinforced the team’s decision to hire Patricia.
“I am very comfortable with the process of interviewing and employing Matt,” Wood said. “I will tell you with 1,000-percent certainty that everything I’ve learned confirmed what I already knew about the man and would have no way changed our decision to make him our head coach.”
Wood also said the woman recanted the sexual assault allegations multiple times — a claim not substantiated by existing records or lawyers for Patricia and his fraternity brother.
The Lions and Patricia released statements on the indictment via the team’s official site:
STATEMENT FROM MATT PATRICIA
“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.
“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.”
STATEMENT FROM MARTHA FIRESTONE FORD, BOB QUINN AND ROD WOOD
“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.”
We will update this story as it develops.
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