Despite the controversy surrounding his hiring, Matt Patricia’s recruitment was conducted by the book.
Lions president Rod Wood on Saturday assured the team followed the law when it came to the new coach’s hiring process despite failing to uncover a sexual assault indictment from more than 20 years ago.
“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.”
According to ESPN, the Fair Credit Reporting Act “does not allow felony arrests that did not result in convictions beyond seven years old to be considered in possible employment” and prevented the information from appearing on the background check.
“There’s been a lot of criticism of people interviewing and questions that were asked that are inappropriate, at the combine and et cetera. And we’re not one of those teams that are going to do those kind of things, whether it’s a player, a coach or an employee,” Wood said. “We’re following the rules, and I’d rather follow the rules and maybe end up where I’m at, although we’re not happy to be dealing with this, there’s no doubt about that.
“But I’d rather be doing that than have broken the rules and had an issue that we were in an unlawful position by having some information. So there’s no doubt it’s a tough spot to be, but I’ll take the tough spot by following the rules versus not following the rules and being in an unlawful position.”
Patricia was indicted by a grand jury on one count of aggravated sexual assault in 1996. He and a teammate on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s football team were charged after allegedly bursting into a South Padre Island hotel room where a woman was sleeping and took turns sexually assaulting her.
Neither Patricia nor his teammate stood trial after the alleged victim decided not to testify. The case was dismissed in 1997 and the police report from the reported incident has been thrown out.
Patricia addressed the media Thursday, maintaining he “did nothing wrong” and insisting the story only resurfaced with the intention to damage his reputation.
“Thankfully the truth is on my side,” Patricia said. “I was innocent then and I’m innocent now.”
Patricia, 43, joined the Lions in February after spending 14 season with the Patriots.