Recently, news has come out about a sexual assault allegation from 22 years ago brought against new Lions head coach Matt Patricia.He has declared he was “falsely accused” and that it’s “incredibly unfair, disappointing, and frustrating that this would resurface now.”
It is strange that this case would resurface after all this time. Why was this not any concern all these years being with the New England Patriots? Why make a big deal about this now? Is this just another attempt for the media to dredge up anything they can to bash the Lions?
The charge against him is a serious one that of course should be made public knowledge and be inexcusable in the NFL if there was a conviction. However, the case was dismissed and Patricia never got the opportunity to clear his name or even defend himself. In a statement to the press, Matt Patricia stated:
“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 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.”
Both Lions owner Martha Ford, team president Rod Wood, and general manager Bob Quinn have expressed their support publicly of Patricia and stand behind him 100%. In a joint statement released to the press, they stated:
“As an organization, The Detroit Lions take allegations regarding sexual assault or harassment seriously. Coach Patricia was the subject of a standard pre-employment background check which did not disclose this issue. 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. We will continue to work with our players and the NFL to further awareness of and protections for those individuals who are the victims of sexual assault or violence.”
According to the information that has been released so far, the alleged incident occurred in 1996 when Patricia was 21 years old. The accuser claims that she was sleeping in a hotel room in South Padre Island when Patricia and his friend burst in the room and sexually assaulted her. The two were arrested later that night but the case was dismissed because the woman would not testify in court. The fact that she wouldn’t testify is a common occurrence for many rape victims because the stress and stigma of the trial can be even worse than the incident itself.
Now that so many years have passed, the details of what may have actually happened are extremely unclear. Attorneys, police lieutenants,and other authorities involved can’t even remember the case. Court documents such as police reports, have been lost. Patricia has been declared legally innocent, yet his reputation remains tarnished because of stigmas around the charge.
Questions are rising on whether or not Patricia and the NFL will turn a blind eye to those accused of serious crimes like sexual assault. Patricia has stated that he is willing to give second chances to players that are facing arrests or convictions, depending on the degree of the issues. However, his focus is strictly on making the players the best players they can be in the NFL.
The recent #MeToo movement appears to be doing its job to spread a much needed spotlight on this serious issue that needs to be addressed. However, it’s important to not turn this into a witch hunt. Why is the media dredging up old unsubstantiated information all of a sudden now that he is with the Lions? Why wasn’t a big deal made when the Patriots hired him? The law does not bar these types of charges against a person from obtaining legal employment.
The two decades old unsubstantiated allegation has no bearing on Patricia’s ability to do his job as a Lion’s head coach. It is simply just one more stab by the media to put the Lions organization in a negative light and reinforce the Detroit vs. Everybody mentality. It is absurd that the media cannot even give two seconds of attention when the Lions make a positive impact in the NFL and the Detroit community but jumps on anything negative it can find. Let’s give Patricia a fair shot and focus on what really matters now: allowing him to do his job getting the Lions to the Super Bowl.