Here is a transcript of the news conference held by Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia on Thursday in the wake of a published report that brought to light a 22-year-old aggravated sexual assault indictment involving Patricia.
Patricia made an opening statement, then took questions.
"I want to start first by thanking Mrs. Ford, her family, Rod [Wood], Bob [Quinn] and the team. They've been hugely supportive of me and [I'm] fortunate to be working for such amazing people and for an organization that has very strong values. I'm here to defend my honor and clear my name.
"Twenty-two years ago, I was falsely accused of something very serious, a very serious allegation. There were claims made about me that never happened. While I'm thankful on one level that the process worked and the case was dismissed, at the same time I was never given the opportunity to defend myself or to allow push-back for the truth to clear my name. This is something that was very traumatic to me when I was 21 years old, and once it was finally addressed, I tried to put it behind me.
"For those of you that are just getting to know me and for those that have known me for a long time, you should know that I was raised the right way by two amazing parents who taught me to know the difference between right and wrong, to stand up for what is right and to stand up for those who have been wronged. I have two older sisters that taught me respect and love. I have always tried to protect them and keep them from harm. I am a husband and a father to a wonderful and amazing family. I try to share those same values with them. I am so thankful to my wife and my family for being supportive of me. I believe that I have always acted with a respect for all people knowing that everyone is someone's dad, mom, sister, brother, son or daughter. I do not condone any of the type of behavior that has been alleged and I never have. I have always been someone who respects and protects the rights of anyone who has been harassed or is the victim of violence, and we as an organization will continue to operate that way.
"In these times, we need to be even more sensitive and responsible in dealing with these issues and separate right from wrong. Thankfully, the truth is on my side. I lived with the mental torture of the situation where facts can be completely ignored or misrepresented with disregard to the consequence and pain that it would create for another person. I find it unfair and upsetting that someone would bring this claim up over two decades later for the sole purpose of hurting my family, my friends and this organization with the intention of trying to damage my character and credibility. I was innocent then and I am innocent now. Let me be clear. My priorities remain the same, to move forward and strive to be the best coach, teacher and man that I can possibly be."
With the #MeToo movement, how could you not think this would resurface?
"You know, like I said, I started interviewing for jobs 22 years ago in a time where one year after this incident happened where I interviewed and these situations never came up, were never asked, and it was never an issue. So through the course of my career, again, as I said, the case was dismissed and I am innocent, so as I went through those times, it has never been an issue."
What happened the night in question?
"Again, I think what's important here in what happened 22 years ago is what didn't happen. As I said, I was innocent then and I am innocent now. I was falsely accused of something that I did not do."
There was a grand jury indictment. Can you explain why you were indicted?
"Again, I was accused of something that I did not do. I went through the process and the case was dismissed."
Were you in the room with the girl? Was there consensual sex? Was there anything that went on between you two?
"Again, I did nothing wrong and that's all I'm going to say on that matter."
Do you regret not disclosing this to the Detroit Lions? Is this something you have ever disclosed?
"Like I said, I've interviewed for a lot of jobs and again, interviewing for jobs in engineering right after the situation happened, it was never an issue, it never came up as anything because it was dismissed and I was innocent. So it has never been a part of any process that I've been involved in."
During your interview here or maybe with the Patriots, did the Lions ask you at any point if you had been arrested for a felony?
"There was never any situation in the Lions interview where I did not disclose the truth."
So did they ask you or not?
"Again, as far as the interview process is concerned, there was nothing that -- and Rod had spoke to it earlier, about the process -- there was nothing that I did not answer."
How did you address this with your team today?
"I talked with the team today and told them exactly what I said to you guys and told them the truth, and I also took this opportunity to, again, one more time, focus on the fact that you know, in this time we do need to be sensitive and responsible and I used this as a learning moment for them so that we can all try to be better."
How will the allegations, if at all, undermine your job? How much could they undermine your job this year?
"Again, my mission is to move forward and be the best coach for this organization that I can be."
You talked about talking to your team today, how important is it that you know that you're the leader of the team and that you are the person you say you are?
"Absolutely, I am 100 percent the head coach of the Detroit Lions."
Matt, just to be clear, nobody with the Lions knew about this when you were hired? Nobody in the hierarchy knew about it?
"That is correct. It never came up in the interview process, but I've always been truthful about it when it was addressed."
Has the support remained the same, coach?
"Like I said before, Mrs. Ford and her family, Rod and Bob, are unbelievable people. I can't express to you how amazing human beings they are, compassionate and understanding."
Were you ever afraid that one day you would have to address this throughout your tenure in coaching?
"I have never not been afraid to address it. My family has known. I've always been truthful with all the situations."