Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions will not face discipline for sexual assault allegation

By The Sports Xchange  |  May 21, 2018 at 7:06 PM
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The NFL will not discipline the Detroit Lions or Matt Patricia after a sexual assault allegation from 1996 surfaced against the head coach, the league announced Monday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter cited league sources as saying the NFL met with the Lions and Patricia last week.

"Our office reviewed the matter with the Lions and Mr. Patricia, and ensured the club engaged in appropriate and thorough hiring practices and that the Coach did not mislead the team during the interview process," league spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

"We determined that the Lions handled the interview process in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner and fully and appropriately compiled with all applicable employment laws. As we learned from both Mr. Patricia and the Lions, the matter was not part of his employment interview process for job opportunities outside of or within the NFL. He was under no legal or other requirement to raise this issue.

"This is not subject to the personal conduct policy as the allegations occurred well before his affiliation with the NFL."

Patricia, now 43, was accused of one count of sexually assaulting a woman in South Padre Island, Texas, during spring break in 1996. He denied the accusation -- at the time and in a press conference on May 10.

"I was innocent then and I am innocent now," Patricia said during a May 10 news conference. "Let me be clear, my priorities remain the same: To move forward and strive to be the best coach, teacher and man that I can possibly be."

Lions owner Martha Ford, team president Rod Wood and general manager Bob Quinn released a joint statement in support of Patricia.

The indictment never went to trial and the case was dismissed in January 1997, after the woman who made the accusation was "unable to testify and can not give a date certain when she will be available," according to the dismissal paperwork, per ESPN. "Victim does not feel she can face the pressures or stress of a trial. Victim may request that the case be refiled at a later date."

Patricia was hired by the Lions on Feb. 5, one day after the New England Patriots fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. Patricia previously served as defensive coordinator of the Patriots.

He replaced Jim Caldwell, who was fired on Jan. 11 after posting a 36-28 record in four seasons with the club.

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