The Detroit Lions head coach mentioned in a press release Wednesday night time that he was “falsely accused.”

With the #MeToo motion nonetheless in full pressure, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia has landed in the center of a scandal — not for any latest actions, however for an alleged 1996 sex assault.

According to Texas court docket information, Patricia was charged in 1996 with aggravated sexual assault, however he was by no means prosecuted for it. The case was shortly dismissed.

According to information in Cameron County Circuit Court, Patricia was indicted in August of 1996. The case was dismissed 5 months later, in January of 1997.

Greg Dietrich, Patricia’s good friend and former faculty teammate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, additionally was accused in the sexual assault and was not prosecuted. 

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Patricia issued a press release Wednesday night time in which he mentioned he was “falsely accused.”

“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,” the assertion learn. “I firmly preserve my innocence, as I’ve at all times completed.

“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.”

Lions proprietor Martha Firestone Ford, workforce president Rod Wood and normal supervisor Bob Quinn issued a joint assertion in which they mentioned Patricia’s normal pre-employment background examine did not disclose the problem. 

“We have spoken to Coach Patricia about this at size in addition to the lawyer who represented him on the time. Based upon all the pieces we now have discovered, we consider and have accepted Coach Patricia’s clarification and we are going to proceed to help him.”

Patricia’s lawyer from the case, Jeff Wilson, mentioned the case is “not newsworthy.”

“I’ll have to talk to Matt at this point in time,” Wilson mentioned. “I’m not talking to anybody else unless he wants me to. So that’s the bottom line. I’ll have to talk to him and talk to the Lions and go from there.”

Asked if Patricia did something flawed in the incident, Wilson mentioned, “I’m not saying anything. I’m tired of talking to people. So just I’ll talk to Matt and then you probably need to make contact with the Detroit Lions from now on.”

Dietrich did not reply to a message left on his mobile phone, and a lady answering the cellphone at his dwelling mentioned he was not accessible earlier than hanging up on a reporter.

Dietrich’s lawyer in the case was Sheldon Weisfield. Reached by cellphone late Wednesday, he would solely say:

“I don’t keep in mind the case and you may’t refresh my recollection. That was 20 years in the past,” Weisfield said, noting he handles many criminal cases. “They all run collectively. I do not recollect that case.”

According to a 1996 article by the Brownsville (Texas) Herald, the alleged sufferer was a university pupil on spring break at South Padre Island.

According to the newspaper, Patricia and Dietrich burst right into a room on the Radisson lodge and took turns assaulting the coed, whom had befriended them on the seashore.  

South Padre Island Police Chief E. E. Eunice informed the Herald that the sufferer informed police she was sleeping in a good friend’s room when she was woke up by Patricia and Dietrich.

“They had been additionally college students and informal pals,” Eunice told the newspaper in 1996.  “She informed us she had palled round with them for a number of days.”

According to the newspaper, the incident occurred at about 6 p.m. and each Patricia, then 22, and Dietrich, then 21, had been arrested later that very same night time after the sufferer recognized them. They had been charged with sexual assault and launched on bond.

The Lions hired Patricia because the 27th head coach in workforce historical past on Feb. 5, a day after the New England Patriots misplaced to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

Patricia spent 14 seasons with the Patriots, the one different NFL workforce he’s labored for, and was the workforce’s defensive coordinator the final six seasons.

The Lions interviewed 5 different candidates through the search course of, however targeted their efforts on touchdown Patricia from the beginning.

Patricia and Lions normal supervisor Bob Quinn spent 12 seasons working collectively in New England, and sometimes went on scouting journeys collectively throughout their offseasons.

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“When we set out (on our teaching search), we had an inventory of qualities that we needed to ensure that the brand new head coach had and people had been integrity, management, intelligence, work ethic, and being progressive in all features of the soccer operation,” Quinn said at the news conference to announce Patricia’s hiring. “After our preliminary assembly with Matt, it was clear that he match these qualities. I really feel very assured that Matt’s the appropriate head coach for the Detroit Lions.”

As effectively considered he was by his colleagues, former gamers and opponents for his soccer acumen, Patricia additionally was identified for his partaking persona.

In faculty, Patricia was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity, together with many different RPI soccer gamers, and pals informed the Free Press earlier this 12 months that he was somebody who “enjoyed the social setting” and being round pals.

“We just wanted to hang out with each other, whether that was playing spades or aces or watching Monday Night Football or having a dance party, whatever it may be,” mentioned Ray Moran, Patricia’s former teammate, coach and frat brother at RPI. “We were all really tight, and especially the fraternity guys, were extraordinarily tight, and the football guys were really tight. I don’t think we ever mis-enjoyed a moment together.”

After faculty and a 12 months as a graduate assistant coach at RPI, Patricia spent two years as an engineer earlier than returning to soccer.

He labored as an assistant coach at Amherst for 2 seasons after which spent three years as a graduate assistant at Syracuse earlier than becoming a member of the Patriots as a low-level assistant.

In Detroit, Patricia has harassed constructing a sensible, bodily soccer workforce the appropriate approach, and doing so whereas instilling a household ambiance in the locker room.

“(I used to be) raised in an Italian family, so one cellphone name and it’s 30 folks at a celebration and so they’re all instant relations,” Patricia said at the NFL annual meeting in March. “So I take pleasure in that ambiance. That’s the way in which to me, once more, in addition to educating, the rationale I left engineering to get again into soccer is trigger I simply suppose that’s the one sport that basically preaches that. It preaches sort of that unity, that workforce, that household ambiance.

“And I’ve just always found that the more I invest in people and the more that people invest in me, the harder I think you work for them, and I think the harder they work for you. So that’s important to me. And again, I enjoy those relationships a lot. They’re very important to me. A lot of the year during the season I spend more time with them than I do my own family, which is not necessarily right, it’s just kind of what it is. So I definitely want to have people around me that are family. That’s just kind of what’s important.”

Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett contributed to this story