The Detroit Lions released a statement late Wednesday expressing support for Matt Patricia after a sexual assault charge against him from 22 years ago resurfaced in a Detroit News story.
Patricia denied the accusation, made by a woman while Patricia was a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on spring break in South Padre Island, Texas, in 1996.
"As someone who was falsely accused of this very serious charge over 22 years ago, and never given the opportunity to defend myself and clear my name, 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," Patricia said in the statement. "I firmly maintain my innocence, as I have always done. 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."
Charges were filed in the case, and Patricia and his friend, Greg Dietrich, were indicted by a grand jury of one count of aggravated sexual assault, but they were never tried in the case.
Lions president Rod Wood told the Detroit News that he was not aware of the allegation in Patricia's past when they hired him. Wood later told the newspaper that he was "comfortable" with Patricia on staff.