Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia met with the media Thursday to address reported allegations of sexual assault in 1996.
Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford, team president Rod Wood and general manager Bob Quinn were all in attendance at the press conference.
Patricia spoke strongly of his innocence.
"I'm here to defend my honor and clear my name," Patricia said. "Twenty-two years ago, I was falsely accused of some very serious, very serious allegations. There were claims made about me that never happened. I am 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 allowed to push back with the truth to clear my name.
"This was 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's right, and to stand up for those who've been wronged.
"I have two older sisters that taught me respect and love. I've 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 family for being supportive of me. I believe and have always acted with a respect for all people, knowing that everyone is someone's dad, mom, sister, brother, son, or daughter."
Patricia went on to say he does not condone any of the type of behavior that was alleged, and never has.
"I have always been someone who respects and protects the rights of anyone who has been harassed or has been the victim of violence, and we as an organization will continue to operate that way," he said. " In these times, we need to be even more sensitive and responsible in dealing with these issues and separate right from wrong. Thankfully, truth is on my side.
"I lived with the mental torture of this situation where facts can be completely ignored or misrepresented with disregard to the consequence and pain that it would create for another person."
Patricia accepted the Lions head coaching position in February, after spending the last 12 seasons with the New England Patriots organization.
These allegations never came up in Patricia's interview process with the Lions.
"I've interviewed for a lot of jobs," Patricia said. "And again, interviewing for jobs in engineering, right after the situation happened, it was never an issue, it never came up in anything because it was dismissed, and I was innocent. So, it's never been part of any process I've been involved in."
Patricia addressed the situation with the team Thursday morning. The Lions are in Phase II of their offseason training program, and the team will hold a rookie minicamp in Allen Park this weekend.
"I talked to the team today and I told them exactly what I said to you guys and told them the truth," he said.
"I also took this opportunity, again, to one more time, focus on the fact that in this time we need to be sensitive and responsible. I used this as a learning moment for them, so we can all try to be better."
Patricia said it's his mission now to move forward and be the best coach for the Lions he can be.