Lions GM Bob Quinn stands by hiring Patricia, who was accused of sexual assault in 1996.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn said he is "very comfortable" with the team's decision to hire Matt Patricia despite a report before the season that the head coach was accused of sexual assault in 1996.
Quinn addressed reporters on Friday in his end-of-the-year media session, where he was asked how the team didn't learn of the accusations against Patricia during the hiring process.
"I’m not paid to do extensive background checks," Quinn said. "I’m here to select the head coach. I’m very comfortable with Matt Patricia as our head coach."
The Lions hired Patricia, who was working as the Patriots defensive coordinator, one day after the Patriots lost Super Bowl LII to the Eagles last February. In May, The Detroit News reported that Patricia was charged in August 1996 with aggravated sexual assault, but he was never prosecuted for it. The case was dismissed five months later in January 1997.
The alleged incident occurred when Patricia was 21 years old and during a spring break trip in South Padre, Texas. Greg Dietrich, the coach's friend and former teammate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was also accused and not prosecuted.
Quinn told reporters Friday that he learned of the article a few days before its publication from Patricia, who found out the story was running.
In May, team president Ron Wood initially told The Detroit News he didn't "know anything about this."
He gave a longer statement hours later.
"I am very comfortable with the process of interviewing and employing Matt," Wood told The News.
The Lions and Patricia also issued a statement, where the head coach said he was "falsely accused."
When asked Friday if knowledge of the accusation would have changed his decision to hire Patricia, Quinn dismissed the question.
"Yeah, I’m not going to deal in hypotheticals," he said. "I didn’t know at the time and going forward we’re just going to stand by our statement."
Below is a transcript of the media's questions and Quinn's answers on Patricia during Friday's session:
Reporter: "Bob, when did you know about Matt Patricia’s sexual assault allegations? When did you know?"
Quinn: "I didn’t — I first found out about it a couple days before the article came out. Matt had got wind that the article was going to come out and he came and told me. So we had extensive conversations with myself, ownership, Rod, about everything, and then we put out that statement back in May about our support for Matt, and that’s kind of how it went down."
Reporter: "If you knew beforehand would he still be your head coach today?"
Quinn: "Yeah, I’m not going to deal in hypotheticals. I didn’t know at the time and going forward we’re just going to stand by our statement."
Reporter: "Does it bother you that you didn’t know before? That he didn’t reveal that to you?"
Quinn: "No, that’s—listen, we do our standard—for a high-level position we do an extensive background check on everybody and nothing came up so that’s kind of how we do those processes."
Reporter: "How could it not come out if somebody else found it quickly when they were searching his name?"
Quinn: "Well, that’s—listen, I’m not paid to do extensive background checks. I’m here to select the head coach. I’m very comfortable with Matt Patricia as our head coach."
Reporter: "What impact do you think that had on the locker room during the season–if any?"
Quinn: "I don't think it had any effect on our locker room. I think our players were very supportive of Matt after that happened and quickly we were into OTAs and we kind of moved on to football. So I don’t think it did."