Barring anything unforeseen, Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions are not going to be punished for anything stemming from the report of a decades-old dismissed sexual assault case involving Patricia.
A dismissed sexual assault case from 1996 against Patricia was brought to light by the Detroit News earlier this month. The NFL said on May 10 it would look into the matter, and on Monday it said Patricia and the Lions would face no discipline, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
That’s a swift investigation. In 1996, a 21-year-old college student claimed that during a spring break trip two football players from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, including Patricia, sexually assaulted her. Patricia was indicted but did not face trial after the alleged victim declined to testify.
Patricia vehemently denied any wrongdoing, including in a news conference earlier this month.
Lions off the hook
The Lions were surprised by the 22-year-old case, and it brought up many questions of whether the organization did a sufficient background check before hiring Patricia. The New England Patriots, shortly after the news broke, said they were unaware of the case during Patricia’s time with the team. Patricia was an assistant coach with the Patriots from 2004 through last season’s Super Bowl in February.
The NFL said the Lions “engaged in appropriate and thorough hiring practices” and that Patricia didn’t mislead the team. Patricia said he didn’t bring up the old case during the interview, and has never lied about it when asked. The NFL said he was under “no legal or other requirement to raise this issue.”
The NFL found that Matt Patricia did not lead the #Lions and the team complied with all employment laws. Allegation was from 1996, so not subject to personal conduct policy. Full statement from @NFLprguy: pic.twitter.com/fDt3NHMw7Z
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 21, 2018
Patricia not subject to personal conduct policy in case
While players have been suspended without convictions in some cases, Patricia wasn’t subject to the personal conduct policy according to the NFL.
The league said the “allegations occurred well before his affiliation with the NFL.” That’s one reason there wasn’t a long, drawn-out investigation into what happened by the NFL, like it did in the Ezekiel Elliott case, for example.
What’s next for Patricia and the team?
Even though Patricia denied the allegations and was never brought to trial in the case, many will have a hard time forgetting the story, especially since it was revealed in a high-profile way right after he was hired for his first head coaching job.
Other than that, the NFL’s statement seems to close the book on the case for Patricia. He already said the Lions were fully behind him, and if the team was going to make a move it presumably would have by now. Lions players have already publicly supported Patricia, so there’s no concern about that being an issue either.
The story was explosive when it was released, but a couple weeks later it seems nothing substantial will come of it for Patricia.
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