ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia says he was “falsely accused” in a 1996 sexual assault allegation that resurfaced this week.
Patricia held a brief news conference Thursday, a 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 for an alleged incident involving a woman on South Padre Island. The accuser did not testify and the case was dismissed.
The Lions said Wednesday night that a pre-employment background check did not turn up the incident. The team said it was standing by Patricia. The coach, who was hired earlier this year after serving as defensive coordinator for the Patriots, also released a statement.
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.
Owner Martha Firestone Ford, general manager Bob Quinn and president Rod Wood were at Thursday’s news conference but did not speak.
An NFL spokesman says the league will review the matter with the team.
The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this story.