Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia speaks at a press conference, concerning his indictment in a 1996 sexual assault case, at the training facility in Allen Park, Michigan on May 10, 2018. Patricia says he was falsely accused. Daniel Mears, The Detroit News
Here is the transcript from Thursday’s press conference for Lions head coach Matt Patricia:
“I want to start first by thanking Mrs. Ford, her family, Rod, Bob and the team. They’ve been hugely supportive of me and I’m fortunate to be working for such amazing people and for an organization that has very strong values.
“I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name. Twenty-two years ago, I was falsely accused of something very serious -- very serious allegations. There were claims made about me that never happened. 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 or to allow push back and the truth to clear my name.
“This was something that was very traumatic to me when I was 21 years old. Once it was finally addressed, I tried to put it behind me. For those of you that are just getting to know me, and for those who have known me for a long time, you should know I was raised the right way by two amazing parents who taught me to know the difference between right and wrong. To stand up for what’s right. And to stand up for those who have been wronged. I have two older sisters that taught me respect and love. I will always try to protect them, and keep them from harm. I’m a husband and a father to a wonderful and amazing family. I try to share those same values with them.
I’m so thankful for my wife and my family for being supportive of me. I believe and have always acted with respect for all people, knowing everyone is someone’s dad, mom, sister, brother, son or daughter. I do not condone any of the type of behavior that has been alleged, and I never have. I’ve always been someone who respects and protects the rights of anyone who has been harassed or is the victim of violence, and we as an organization will continue to operate that way. In these times, we need to be even more sensitive and responsible in dealing with these issues, and separate right from wrong.
Thankfully, truth is on my side. I lived with the mental torture of a situation where facts could be completely ignored or misrepresented, with disregard for the consequence or pain it would create for another person. I find it unfair and upsetting that someone would bring this claim up over two decades later for the sole purpose of hurting my family, my friends and this organization, with the intention of damaging my character and credibility. I was innocent then, and I am innocent now. 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.”
■ Question: With the Me Too movement, how could you think this wouldn’t resurface?
■ Answer: “You know, like I said, I started interviewing for jobs 22 years ago. In a time where, one year after this incident happened where I interviewed and these situations never came up, were never asked and it was never an issue. So through the course of my career, again, as I said, the case was dismissed and I am innocent. So as I went through those times, it’s never been an issue.”
■ Q: What happened the night in question?
■ A: “Again, what I think is important here, what happened 22 years ago is what didn’t happen. As I said, I was innocent then and I’m innocent now. I was falsely accused of something I did not do.”
■ Q: Can you explain why there was an indictment?
■ A: “Again, I was accused of something I did not do. I went through the process and the case was dismissed.”
■ Q: Were you in the room with the girl? Was there consensual sex?
■ A: “Again, I did nothing wrong and that’s all I’m going to say on that matter.”
■ Q: Do you regret not disclosing it to the Lions?
■ A: “Like I said before, I’ve interviewed for a lot of jobs. And again, interviewing for jobs in engineering, right after the situation happened, it was never an issue, it never came up in anything because it was dismissed and I was innocent. It’s never been part of any process I’ve done before.”
■ Q: Did the Lions ask you during your interview if you’ve ever been arrested?
■ A: “There was never any situation in the Lions interview where I did not disclose the truth.”
■ Q: Did they ask you or not?
■ A: “Again, as far as the interview process was concerned – and Rod spoke to it earlier, about the process – there was nothing I didn’t answer truthfully.”
■ Q: How did you address it with the team?
■ A: “Yeah, I talked to the team today and I told them exactly what I said to you guys. I told them the truth. I also took this opportunity, again, one more time, focus on the fact in this time we need to be sensitive and responsible. I used this as a learning moment for them so we can all try to be better.”
■ Q: Do you feel these allegations could undermine your job?
■ A: “Again, my mission is to move forward and be the best coach for this organization that I can be.”
■ Q: How important was it to show the team you’re the person you say you are?
■ A: “Absolutely. I am 100 percent the coach of the Detroit Lions.”
■ Q: To confirm, nobody on the Lions knew about this when you were hired?
■ A: “That is correct. It never came up in the interview process and I’ve always been truthful about it (inaudible).”
■ Q: Has the support remained constant?
■ A: “Like I said before, Mrs. Ford, her family, Rod and Bob have been unbelievable. I cannot express to you how amazing of human beings they are – compassionate and understanding.”
■ Q: Were you ever afraid you’d have to address this?
■ A: “I’ve never not (sic) been afraid to address it. My family has known. I’ve always been truthful with all the situations.”