Wednesday night, news broke – somehow 22 years later – that Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia had been indicted and charged with sexual assault back in 1996 stemming from an alleged incident during spring break in Texas. But the woman never showed in court to testify, and Patricia denies any wrongdoing.
The Lions, who hired Patricia just three months ago, have issued a statement on the matter. One line from the team’s release isn’t sitting well with many in the industry.
Essentially, some think that the line about Patricia being 21 years old and being on spring break in Texas reads almost as an excuse for the alleged behavior. Whether that’s what the Lions intended – that’s how many are interpreting it.
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.”
Many on Twitter expressed their thoughts.
Not great that the #Lions threw in that Matt Patricia was 21 years old and "on spring break in Texas." Does that make the accuser less credible, or his alleged actions excusable? Why put that in there? Just say you believe ins innocence, don't make excuses.
— Matt Verderame (@MattVerderame) May 10, 2018
Can't for the life of me figure out why this statement feels the need to mention Patricia was 21 and on Spring Breakhttps://t.co/h8WtXi28vV
— Steve O'Rourke (@steveohrourke) May 10, 2018
The sexual assault allegations that surfaced against Matt Patricia are murky, but did the Lions really mention that he was “21 at the time and on spring break” in their statement? https://t.co/cqQB2x2QTg
— Ryan Kartje (@Ryan_Kartje) May 10, 2018
It’s a bit odd that this story is coming out now. Patricia had a few college jobs – at Rensselaer, Amherst and Syracuse before working for the New England Patriots as an assistant coach from 2004-2017. He’s been in the spotlight for quite some time.
It’s also unclear where the story goes from here. Patricia was never convicted, and the story is so old that there are likely to be no new developments. From the team’s statement, it looks like the franchise is prepared to support him.