NFL Will Review Matt Patricia's 1996 Sexual Assault Indictment with Lions

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2018

FILE - In this April 27, 2018, file photo, Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia introduces first-round draft pick Frank Ragnow at the NFL football team's training facility in Allen Park, Mich. Patricia is maintaining his innocence after a 1996 sexual assault allegation against him resurfaced in reports Wednesday night, May 9. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The NFL said Thursday that it will review a 1996 sexual assault allegation against Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia.

In a statement, an NFL spokesman told CNN's Jill Martin: "We will review the matter with the club to understand the allegations and what the club has learned."

Robert Snell of the Detroit News wrote an article Wednesday regarding a 1996 sexual assault allegation that Patricia was indicted on. The former New England Patriots defensive coordinator was never tried.

Snell reported that Patricia and his friend, Greg Dietrich, were indicted on one count of aggravated sexual assault in relation to allegations stemming from an encounter during spring break in South Padre Island, Texas. Patricia was a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at the time.

The accuser decided against testifying, which resulted in the case never going to trial.

On Wednesday, Patricia said the following regarding the allegation, per ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein:

"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. 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."

Team president Rod Wood and general manager Bob Quinn said they weren't aware of the allegation when they hired Patricia, but they released a statement in support of their coach.

Also, Wood told Snell, "I am very comfortable with the process of interviewing and employing Matt. 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."

Patricia served as an assistant coach with the Patriots from 2004 until last season, ascending to defensive coordinator in 2012. He won three Super Bowls during his time in New England.

Detroit hired Patricia after parting ways with Jim Caldwell on the heels of a 9-7 season in 2017.

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