Detroit Lions Shouldn’t Fire Matt Patricia Over Old Sexual Assault Allegations
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is bogged down after an old sexual assault allegation recently surfaced, and it’s no reason or excuse for him to be fired.
Patricia was charged with aggravated sexual assault after an unidentified woman claimed Patricia and a friend burst into her room, and began sexually assaulting her during spring break in Texas. The charges were eventually dropped. (RELATED: Lions Head Coach Indicted, Not Tried In Sexual Assault Case In 1996)
This piece of Patricia’s past wasn’t widely known prior to this week, and I would be greatly disappointed if the Lions fired him. I say that as a Lions fan, a fan of football, a fan of the justice system and an American who believes in innocent until proven guilty.
Now, let me be crystal clear here. Anybody who is guilty of sexual assault or rape should be punished in the worst possible way. If a jury finds you guilty, then you ought to never see daylight again.
That’s not the case here, however, and we can’t allow decades-old allegations to destroy lives. Again, this would be different if there had been trial and conviction, but there wasn’t, and Patricia has maintained his innocence with the full support of the Lions.
I don’t want to live in a country where any kind of accusation shifts the burden of proof onto the accused. That’s not what America is all about.
Now, some people will say he should be fired because he’s hurting the reputation of the team. That’s partially true. The Lions could let him go, but they would have a massive lawsuit on their hands if they didn’t pay out his contract. Good luck convincing the courts you fired a guy for cause off a 22-year-old unproven allegation. It’s not going to happen.
Furthermore, he shouldn’t be fired out of pure principle. There is no proof, there is no conviction, there is no damning evidence and there is nothing to suggest he is guilty as far as we know. Again, it’s an unproven claim. What precedent is being sent if a man is fired over an unproven claim for 22 years ago?
I’m sure people will say that he’s not innocent simply because he’s not convicted. They’ll point to his arrest as proof he’s guilty. Look no further than the Duke lacrosse case if you need proof of an incident of innocent people being charged with sex crimes they didn’t commit.
As long as we’re living in America, then we need to uphold the values and principals that have made us strong, including innocent until proven guilty.
Follow David on Twitter