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New Lions Coach Matt Patricia Was Indicted But Not Tried On Sexual Assault Charges In 1996

A general view of the Detroit Lions stadium with an American flag on the field.

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: General view of Ford Field before the game between Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals on September 10, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Matt Patricia was hired as head coach of the Detroit Lions on February 5. He spent the previous 13 seasons with the New England Patriots on Bill Belichick's staff. Today, old Matt Patricia sexual assault charges from his college days resurfaced.

Patricia attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where he also played football. In 1996, he and teammate and fraternity brother Greg Dietrich attended went to spring break on South Padre Island in Texas. It was there that a woman accused them of breaking into her room and sexually assaulting her.

The Lions were reportedly unaware of the story, until The Detroit News reached out about the story. From their write-up:

On the evening of March 15, 1996, the woman told police that two men burst into the upscale hotel room where she was sleeping and took turns violently sexually assaulting her, according to court records and a news account at the time. They were arrested, charged and later indicted by a grand jury on one count of aggravated sexual assault — but they never stood trial and were not convicted.

The Matt Patricia sexual assault allegation led to a charge and indictment by a Texas grand jury.

Patricia was set to stand trial on one count of sexual assault after the indictment. However, the woman never showed up to testify, and the case was dismissed.

Both Patricia and his attorney continue to fully deny that any sexual assault occurred:

“In my opinion, it was a fabrication,” attorney Jeff Wilson said. “I’m telling you it was a ‘he said, she said.’ I don’t know what type of problems the girl was having; I don’t know why she made that allegation. We vehemently denied that he was doing anything wrong or did anything wrong.”

Patricia put out a statement following the story becoming public. From NFL.com:

"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," Patricia said in a statement. "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."

Because there was no criminal conviction in the Matt Patricia sexual assault case, it never came up in the background checks the Lions ran on him. The team says that it accepts the coach's explanation, and will stand behind him.

[The Detroit News]