Matt Patricia’s former boss vouched for the coach’s character in a statement released Thursday to multiple media outlets.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whom Patricia worked under for 14 years before being hired as head coach of the Detroit Lions in February, said Patricia “conducted himself with great integrity” during his time in New England.

Belichick also said the Patriots were not aware of Patricia’s 1996 sexual assault indictment, which came to light following a Detroit News report Wednesday night. Patricia’s accuser declined to testify in the case, which was dismissed before it could go to trial.

“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 his character and recommended him highly to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions.”

Patricia strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement and in a news conference that he had been “falsely accused.”

“I’m here to defend my honor and clear my name,” the 43-year-old coach told reporters in Detroit on Thursday. “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.”

You can read Patricia’s full remarks here.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images