Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is bogged down after an old sexual assault allegation recently surfaced, and its 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 Patricias past wasnt 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.
Thats not the case here, however, and we cant allow decades-old allegations to destroy lives. Again, this would be different if there had been trial and conviction, but there wasnt, and Patricia has maintained his innocence with the full support of the Lions.
I dont want to live in a country where any kind of accusation shifts the burden of proof onto the accused. Thats not what America is all about.
Now, some people will say he should be fired because hes hurting the reputation of the team. Thats partially true. The Lions could let him go, but they would have a massive lawsuit on their hands if they didnt pay out his contract. Good luck convincing the courts you fired a guy for cause off a 22-year-old unproven allegation. Its not going to happen.
Furthermore, he shouldnt 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, its an unproven claim. What precedent is being sent if a man is fired over an unproven claim for 22 years ago?
Im sure people will say that hes not innocent simply because hes not convicted. Theyll point to his arrest as proof hes 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 didnt commit.
As long as were living in America, then we need to uphold the values and principals that have made us strong, including innocent until proven guilty.