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
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions and Matt Patricia will not face discipline from the NFL regarding a 1996 sexual assault allegation against the coach.
“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,” the NFL wrote in a statement on Monday. “We determined that the Lions handled the interview process in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner and fully and appropriately complied 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.”
The league also clarified that the incident is not subject to the personal conduct policy since the allegations occurred well before Patricia was employed by an NFL team.
Patricia, along with a friend and college teammate, was arrested in March 1996 for an alleged sexual assault that occurred in a South Padre Island, Texas, hotel. A grand jury eventually indicted both on one count of aggravated sexual assault, but the charges were dismissed when the accuser failed to return and take part in a potential trial.
The allegations had previously been unknown until they were uncovered by the Detroit News earlier this month. Patricia addressed the allegations with the media the next day, reaffirming his innocence.
“I'm here to defend my honor and clear my name,” Patricia said. “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 pushback and the truth to clear my name.”
The handful of Lions players who have spoken publicly since the allegations surfaced have been uniformly supportive of Patricia.
“Honestly, once coach Patricia came in and put that Lion on his chest like everybody else, he was one of us,” linebacker Jarrad Davis said last week at the team’s Taste of the Lions event at Ford Field. “We’ve got his back in everything he goes through and we expect the same from him.”
With the matter settled with the league, the Lions and Patricia can fully return attention to the field. The team kicks off its first OTA on Monday.