In the two days since word emerged that Lions coach Matt Patricia faced an indictment 22 years ago for aggravated sexual assault, some have argued that Patricia should have volunteered the information to the Lions in connection with the process that resulted in Patricia being hired.
Should he have done it? Putting it another way, would you have?
Patricia, based on his comments from Thursday, believes he was falsely accused, and that he did nothing wrong. If that’s the case, Patricia spent several months in 1996 constantly worrying about what would happen if the case went to trial, surely obsessing over everything from whether to testify, whether he’d be able to handle aggressive cross-examination, whether the jury would see his side of the case, whether the judge would be fair to him, and what will happen if he’s convicted of something he didn’t do?
After the case was dismissed, Patricia surely fretted over the possibility that his future had been derailed by the false accusation. And he undoubtedly spent the last 22 years fearful that news of the indictment based on a false allegation would come to light. (He probably is relieved that can now stop worrying about it, issues caused by the disclosure notwithstanding.)
There’s a chance Patricia at some point in the past 22 years researched the question of whether employers can or can’t ask applicants about arrests/indictments. Most responsible employers will ask only about convictions. (Indeed, the NFL specifically advises teams not to ask incoming players about mere arrests.)
So he had every right to keep his mouth shut, especially since the information was readily available to anyone who wanted to find it.
That said, Patricia’s hiring came in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, which provided widespread encouragement to victims of sexual misconduct to make their experiences known — and which created a belated day of reckoning for many offenders. The new sensitivity to issues of this nature makes it a much closer question as to whether Patricia should have volunteered information that the Lions could have found on their own.
Ultimately, Matt Patricia chose to exercise his right to remain silent about something that he believes never happened. Most of us would advise a child, spouse, brother, friend, cousin, nephew to do the same.
Once again, this opinion is premised on contention that the allegation was false. If the allegation was true, that’s a much different analysis, obviously.