According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL will not be handing down any sort of discipline on the Detroit Lions nor head coach Matt Patricia in light of the 1996 sexual assault allegations against Patricia brought to light by a report from The Detroit News.
Throughout the process over the past two weeks, the Lions said that their initial hiring process did not unearth these allegations—of which Patricia was indicted but never convicted. However, the team said they have since talked to both Patricia and his attorney from the case. In a joint statement form team president Rod Wood, general manager Bob Quinn and owner Martha Ford, the team stated “we believe and have accepted Coach Patricia’s explanation and we will continue to support him.”
In a strongly-worded press conference, Patricia maintained his innocence throughout the entire process. “I was innocent then and I am innocent now,” Patricia firmly stated in front of the Lions media.
According to Schefter, the league met with the Lions and Patricia last week and came to their decision. Although the Lions did not find the details of Patricia’s arrest prior to the Detroit News’ story, the league determined they were not at fault. Per ESPN:
The NFL said the Lions were not at fault for not learning about Patricia’s 1996 arrest during the interview process and that Patricia would not be disciplined for not letting his arrest be known to the club, sources said.
Wood insists during their background check of Patricia, they followed the law and erred on the side of caution regarding learning information that was both unusable and illegal to obtain during the hiring process.
“We always err on the side of hiring a firm who understands all the laws, follows them, state and federal,” Wood told ESPN, “so that we don’t happen upon something that we’re not entitled to have nor would we be able to use.”
Certain labor laws prevent seven-year-old felony arrests that didn’t result in conviction to be considering in the hiring process, and therefore many background checks do not include these arrests in their reports.
Considering the Lions have already thrown their complete support behind Patricia, this is likely the end of this saga, unless more information about the 1996 allegations come to light.
UPDATE: Here is a full statement from the league: