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Bill Belichick says Patriots were unaware of allegation about Matt Patricia

Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Matt Patricia worked with Bill Belichick and the Patriots from 2004-2017.

By Nik DeCosta-Klipa Boston.com Staff 

Did the Patriots know about a 1996 incident in which former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was accused of sexual assault?

Not according to Bill Belichick.

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In a statement Thursday afternoon, the Patriots coach said the team was unaware of “the matter which recently came to light.” Belichick also praised Patricia’s “integrity” and “character” during his time in Foxborough.

“The New England Patriots were not aware of the matter which recently came to light,” Belichick said. “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.”

As The Detroit News noted, Massachusetts state law bars employers from asking employees or job applicants about past arrests that did not end in a conviction. The intent of the law is to prevent discrimination. Patricia was hired by the Patriots in 2004 as an offensive assistant, before gradually moving up the ranks to become defensive coordinator in 2012.