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Lions Coach Matt Patricia Denies Raping Woman In 1996

5/10/2018 6:19 AM PDT

Detroit Lions Coach Matt Patricia Denies Raping Woman In 1996

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Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia says he was falsely accused of raping a woman in Texas back in 1996 ... and says it's "unfair" the allegations have resurfaced in the media. 

Patricia is responding to a report by the Detroit News, which found court records showing Patricia was indicted by a grand jury on one count of aggravated sexual assault in 1996. 

According to the report, Patricia -- then 21 years old -- was with another Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute football player during a South Padre Island spring break trip ... when they burst into a hotel room and sexually assualted a 21-year-old woman. 

Despite the criminal charge, the case never went to trial and it was eventually dismissed. Patricia went on to become one of Bill Belichick's most trusted assistant coaches with the New England Patriots. 

Now, Patricia -- along with the top Detroit Lions execs -- issued a statement saying the allegations were BS in the first place.

"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."

"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."

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