Earlier in May, The Detroit News uncovered allegations of sexual assault against new Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia. It was revealed that Patricia, former defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots who has a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was indicted, but not tried, for sexual assault during spring break at South Padre Island, Texas.
The alleged 21-year-old victim said on the evening of March 15, 1996, two men burst into her hotel room as she was sleeping and took turns violently sexually assaulting her, according to court records obtained by The Detroit News. Patricia, along with friend and teammate Greg Dietrich, were arrested, charged, and indicted by a grand jury but never stood trial after the alleged victim could not testify.
Patricia, who was 21 at the time of the alleged incident, has maintained his innocence through the allegations which both the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots were unaware of at the time of his hire.
“I do not condone any of the type of behavior that has been alleged, and I never have,” said Patricia one day after The Detroit News story broke. “I’ve always been someone who respects and protects the rights of anyone who has been harassed or is the victim of violence, and we as an organization will continue to operate that way.”
Documents showed that investigators had five witnesses and medical evidence from the alleged victim, although she could not face the stress of the trial. The witness list included an emergency room nurse and doctor at Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville, Texas, two law enforcement officials with the South Padre Island Police Department, and a college classmate. It remains unclear if medical evidence included DNA evidence.
The NFL has already ruled that neither Patricia nor the Lions would be disciplined from the league over the incident, but that doesn’t mean that no wrongdoing occurred.
In a revelation made Thursday, May 24, through a request from The Detroit News and other outlets, South Padre Island Information Officer Angelique Soto said new records were recovered in the 1996 case. The files include “internal working documents that would be used in the process of submitting cases to the District Attorney’s Office and reporting a criminal history to the Texas Department of Public Safety,” said Soto.
According to a Wayne State law professor and former federal prosecutor Peter Henning told The Detroit News the new documents could include assessments by investigators over credibility of witnesses and key figures involved.
What is clear right now is that Patricia will be the head coach of the Detroit Lions for the foreseeable future.
“I am very comfortable with the process of interviewing and employing Matt,” Lions’ team president Rod Wood. “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.”