Matt Patricia says ‘truth is on my side’ in resurfaced sexual assault allegations

Matt Patricia
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia addressed the 1996 sexual assault allegation against him which surfaced in media reports. –AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia held a news conference Thursday to address a report published Wednesday that said he was accused of sexual assault in 1996.

“I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name,’’ said Patricia, who is now the head coach of the Detroit Lions.

Patricia issued a statement Wednesday night and appeared before media in Detroit Thursday for about seven minutes. He denied the accusation.

“Thankfully the truth is on my side,’’ he said. “I was innocent then and I’m innocent now.’’

Patricia said the allegation was not mentioned while he was interviewing for the Lions job.

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“It never came up in the interview process, but I have always been truthful about it when addressed,’’ he said.

Patricia also said he has lived with the “mental torture’’ of the allegation.

“I do not condone any of the type of behavior that has been alleged and I never have,’’ he said.

Patricia ended Thursday’s appearance immediately after he was asked if other organizations were aware of the allegations when he interviewed with them.

The Detroit News reported that Patricia and a friend of his were indicted 22 years ago by a Texas grand jury on one count each of aggravated sexual assault for an alleged incident involving a woman on South Padre Island. The accuser did not testify and the case was dismissed after 10 months.

The Lions said a ‘‘standard pre-employment background check’’ did not turn up the incident. The team said it was standing by Patricia.

Patricia joined the Patriots in 2004 as a coaching assistant and was named defensive coordinator in 2012. His defenses were key parts of two Patriots Super Bowl victories during his tenure as defensive coordinator.

The NFL said it will discuss the report with the Lions.

“We will review the matter with the club to understand the allegations and what the club has learned,’’ NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.