Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports

Matt Patricia story could resurface at any time, despite no league discipline over sexual assault indictment

Alex Reimer
May 21, 2018 - 2:37 pm

The NFL announced Monday neither the Lions nor Matt Patricia will be subject to discipline over his 1996 sexual assault indictment, regardless of whether more information is revealed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter

But that doesn't mean the story is over. 

The league’s personal conduct policy can’t be applied to the case, because the allegation occurred well before Patricia’s NFL career. NFL representatives met last week with the Lions and Patricia, and determined the organization wasn’t at fault for failing to uncover his arrest. Patricia also won’t be disciplined for not disclosing the situation. 

Since the case never stood trial, it makes sense the NFL wouldn’t punish the Lions for publicly saying they didn’t have knowledge of the arrest. From a legal standpoint, the league is making the logical call.

Patricia and one of his college football teammates were accused of bursting into the hotel room of a 21-year-old woman while on spring break in Texas and sexually assaulting her. A grand jury indicted Patricia and his friend, Greg Dietrich, on one count of aggravated sexual assault, which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison in Texas. But the charges were dismissed and Patricia never stood trial. The accuser declined to testify. 

The Detroit News resurfaced the allegations May 9. Patricia denies the allegation and professed his innocence in a press conference. The Lions claim they were ignorant of the arrest. In a statement, Bill Belichick also denied knowledge of the situation. 

Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal for employers to ask about arrests that did not lead to convictions. Patricia worked for the Patriots from 2004 –– 2017, serving as defensive coordinator for the last five years. 

In Michigan, however, employers can ask job applicants about arrests that didn't result in guilty verdicts. 

Despite the lack of discipline, this could still be an embarrassing story for the league if more details about the alleged assault are unearthed. Earlier this month, the Detroit Free Press reported the dismissed case had five witnesses. If one of them were to come forward, never mind the alleged victim herself, then the NFL, Lions and Patricia would probably have some questions to answer. 

For now, though, the story dips beneath the surface, with the possibility that it could come back up for more air at any time. 

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