New Lions head coach Matt Patricia had a press conference Thursday, one day after the Detroit News reported that he had been indicted for sexual assault in 1996. The case was dismissed after, according to authorities, the victim decided not to testify due to feeling she could not “face the pressures or stress of a trial.”
The entire press conference was less than eight minutes, and started out with Patricia reading from a prepared statement. Patricia twice said he wanted to “clear his name.” He called what happened in 1996 “very traumatic to me” and said “there were claims made about me that never happened.” He brought up his wife, his older sisters, his kids, and his parents who “taught me to know the difference between right and wrong.” Patricia said he didn’t condone “any of the type of behavior that has been alleged.”
“In these times, we need to be even more sensitive and responsible in dealing with these issues and separate right from wrong,” Patricia said. “Thankfully truth is on my side. I lived with the mental torture of a situation where facts can be completely ignored or misrepresented with disregard to the consequence and pain it would create for another person. I find it unfair and upsetting that someone would bring this claim up over two decades later for the sole purpose of hurting my family, my friends, and this organization with the intention of trying to damage my character and credibility. I was innocent then and I am innocent now”
From there, the press conference was opened up to questions. The first came from a reporter asking Patricia how he could not think this would have resurfaced given the ongoing #MeToo movement. Patricia’s answer was that he had been interviewing for jobs for 22 years, including soon after the case was dismissed, and “it was never an issue.” He also added, “I am innocent.”
Another reporter asked Patricia to say what did happen that night. Patricia gave this answer: “What’s important here is what happened 22 years ago is what didn’t happened. As I said, I was innocent then and I am innocent now. I was falsely accused of something I did not do.” Patricia pointed out he went through the legal process and “the case was dismissed.”
Patricia was asked if what happened was consensual. Patricia replied with, “Again, I did nothing wrong. That’s all I will say on that matter.” When asked if the case came up with the Lions, Patricia said “There was never any situation in the Lions interview in which I did not disclose the truth.” Patricia later added that he already had talked about this with the team and that, “in this time, we do need to be sensitive and responsible, and I use this as a learning moment for them so that we so all can try to be better.” A reporter tried getting in a question about what he would tell fans, but Patricia never answered it.
The final question was if the case had ever come up with his prior teams, which have included Syracuse, Amherst, and, most notably, the New England Patriots.
Patricia’s response, which you can watch in the video above: “Thank you, I appreciate everyone’s time.” At that point he walked off the stage.