Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered an unexpected defense of Lions coach Matt Patricia’s character on Wednesday.
Ross told reporters (via the Detroit Free Press) at the NFL owners meetings it was his understanding that Patricia never “slept with” the woman Patricia was accused of sexually assaulting in a Texas hotel room 22 years ago.
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“They’re so thorough in all their search,” Ross said of NFL teams’ investigations of potential hires. “It was unfortunate. Thank God he’s cleared and can (coach). Hey, that’s life today. Everybody’s looking at everything. You guys, you look under every leaf and you’re going to find something and it’s unfortunate for people. But I understand, he never even slept with her.”
Ross was circumspect about how he got his information.
“I mean, I talked to our guys, our personnel people. People know him. He’s a fabulous guy. It’s great for Detroit,” he was quoted as saying.
A grand jury in Texas indicted Patricia in 1996, but the case was dismissed in 1997 after his accuser refused to testify in court.
Patricia categorically denied the allegation the day after the Detroit News reported it on May 9. “I did nothing wrong,” he said at a news conference.
The NFL later announced it would not discipline Patricia or the Lions over the allegations.