Before Matt Patricia became the head coach of the Detroit Lions in February, he built up his reputation as a defensive mastermind while working under Patriots coach Bill Belichick in New England for more than a decade. After The Detroit News reported on Wednesday night that Patricia was indicted by a grand jury on one count of aggravated sexual assault in 1996, but was neither tried nor convicted, Belichick came to Patricia's defenses.

On Thursday, after Patricia defended himself at a press conference, Belichick released his own statement to support his former assistant coach and announce that the Patriots did not know about the indictment until Wednesday night.

"The New England Patriots were not aware of the matter which recently came to light. For 14 years in our organization, Matt conducted himself with great integrity and is known to be an outstanding coach, person and family man. We have always been confident in Matt's character and recommended him highly to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions."

Patricia joined the Patriots in 2004 as an offensive assistant. In 2005 he coached the offensive line, and from 2006-10 he led the linebacker group. After a one-year run as the safeties coach, he became the defensive coordinator in 2012, a position he held through the 2017 season. It was in that role that Patricia developed a reputation as one of the game's brightest defensive minds. As a result, he was wanted by more teams than just the Lions this offseason.

After The Detroit News' report emerged on Wednesday night, the Lions -- like the Patriots -- said that they did not know about the incident before they hired him, even though, as Deadspin pointed out, it would've been rather routine for a team to find it during a background check.  

Like the Patriots, the Lions have also stood by Patricia. In a joint statement released Wednesday night, Lions owner Martha Ford, general manager Bob Quinn, and team president Rod Wood wrote "we believe and have accepted Coach Patricia's explanation and we will continue to support him." Meanwhile, Patricia maintained his innocence in a statement released Wednesday night and again at his press conference Thursday. 

Finally, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Pro Football Talk that the league will "review the matter with the club to understand the allegations and what the club has learned."