Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia was indicted by a Texas grand jury for one count of aggravated sexual assault during a spring break trip in South Padre Island, Texas in 1996 while he was a college student. At the time, Patricia was 21 years old, attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and playing on their football team.
Patricia was charged alongside his former teammate, Greg Dietrich, but the charges were eventually dropped and the case was officially dismissed after the accuser refused to testify. The two friends were accused of bursting into the 21 year old college student’s room around 6 P.M., and sexually assaulting her.
— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) May 10, 2018
The accuser told police that she met Matt Patricia and Greg Dietrich while staying in South Padre Island and “befriended” the duo on the beach the night she was allegedly assaulted. The accuser filed the police report immediately, resulting in the arrest of Patricia and Dietrich that night, but they were eventually released on bond.
Matt Patricia and Greg Dietrich were indicted by a Texas grand jury five months later, in January 1997. The case was set to take place on October 21st, 1997, until the accuser decided she could not handle the stress that was induced by the trial, ultimately resulting in the case being dismissed, and all charges dropped for Matt Patricia and Greg Dietrich.
The Detroit Lions organization continues to stand behind Patricia’s firm stance of innocence, but the NFL has countered by launching an investigation keeping a close eye on the ongoing incident. Both the Detroit Lions and Patricia’s former employer, the New England Patriots, said that the incident has never been brought up or addressed during the “standard pre-employment background check” conducted by every NFL organization before an official hire.
Matt Patricia issues a statement to maintain his innocence after a 1996 assault allegation against him resurfaced Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/Had28Gvykp
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) May 10, 2018
Patricia claims that the long time accuser was lying about the incident the entire time.
“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,”
“I firmly maintain my innocence, as I have always done,” Patricia said in a statement issued by the Lions
According to court and medical documents, the accuser was treated at a nearby hospital the night of the alleged assault. It is not known at this time whether DNA evidence was collected during the accusers visit to the hospital.
— theScore (@theScore) May 12, 2018
Multiple details about this incident are extremely unclear, with missing reports and information, along with the fact the case was thrown out so long ago. Reports have been discarded due to a retention policies that only lets records to be held for a maximum of 10 years. Any official holding an authority position during the time of the trial couldn’t recall any details, emphasizing that these events transpired more than 20 years ago.
The only court document released for the case was the witness list, which included a nurse, doctor, detective, police officer, and college friend of the alleged victim. The accounts from these five people prompted the authorities to issue an indictment by a grand jury of Matt Patricia and Greg Dietrich on charges of aggravated sexual assault.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 10, 2018
The Detroit Lions plan on continuing their vigorous support for their newly hired head coach, and will remain steady in the fight to uphold Patricia’s innocence, even though the NFL plans on launching their “thorough investigation” on the matter.
The owner and general manager of the Detroit Lions released a joint statement addressed specifically to the ongoing drama with their head coach.
“I am very comfortable with the process of interviewing and employing Matt,” Wood told the News. “I will tell you with 1,000-percent certainty that everything I’ve learned confirmed what I already knew about the man and would have no way changed our decision to make him our head coach.”
“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,” said Owner Martha Firestone Ford and GM Bob Quinn.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 10, 2018
The Detroit Lions hired Matt Patricia immediately following the 2017-2018 NFL season, where he is set to replace Jim Caldwell as head coach.