May 27th, 2024

CFLPA launches appeal against CFL for failing to provide access to full Kelly report

By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press on May 10, 2024.

The CFL Players Association launched an appeal Friday night against the CFL for denying it access to the full independent report that resulted in the league suspending quarterback Chad Kelly for violating its gender-based violence policy.

On Tuesday, the CFL suspended its 2023 outstanding player from playing in the Toronto Argonauts two pre-season games and at least nine regular-season contests. That followed an independent investigation commissioned by the league into a lawsuit filed by a former strength-and-conditioning coach against Kelly for sexual harassment and the club for wrongful dismissal.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Tuesday the investigation found Kelly “unequivocally violated” the league’s gender-based violence policy. However, the Argos, Kelly’s camp and the former coach’s legal representatives all received an executive summary, not the full 87-page report.

The CFLPA also received the summary and requested access to the full report, which it says was denied by the CFL. The union wants to examine details of the full report as part of its due diligence of the Kelly ruling.

Neither Kelly’s camp nor the union have indicated if they plan to launch an appeal of the actual suspension.

“The CFLPA has filed an appeal to the CFL to obtain the full records and report of the CFL’s investigation, as our previous requests have been denied,” the union said in a statement. “Accountability and transparency are critical in these matters, and we have real concerns about the process and consistency applied during the CFL investigation.

“We value safe working environments for women working in football; the CFLPA takes allegations of gender-based violence very seriously. We will pursue these concerns further with the league office and will have no further comment at this time.”

On Thursday, Kelly was on the field during Toronto’s rookie camp at the University of Guelph. He was not dressed in equipment and didn’t practise.

Afterwards, Toronto GM Mike (Pinball) Clemons told reporters Kelly’s presence was within the conditions of the CFL’s discipline. A league spokesman said Kelly was on the field at the Argos’ discretion.

The CFL investigation came after a complainant filed a statement of claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleging a pattern of harassment by Kelly, beginning with unwanted romantic advances and escalating into instances of threatening language.

The complainant said the Argos didn’t act when told of Kelly’s behaviour and claims assistant GM John Murphy said she “opened a can of worms that didn’t need to be opened.”

Clemons said Tuesday he wasn’t aware of the allegations until they became public. Clemons added he never received a copy of the 87-page report and believed the Argos’ legal representatives got an executive summary.

If either Kelly or the CFLPA appeals the suspension, Kelly could theoretically be allowed to play until an arbitration hearing.

If that happened, Clemons said the Argos would then decide whether to allow Kelly back or issue their own discipline.

As per the suspension, Kelly must undergo confidential assessments by an independent expert and attend mandatory counselling sessions conducted by a gender-based violence expert. Both must be satisfactorily completed before the CFL will consider Kelly’s reinstatement and it reserves the right to modify his discipline.

If Kelly complies with all conditions to the CFL’s satisfaction, he could return for Toronto’s home game versus Saskatchewan on Aug. 22.

Kelly, 30, led Toronto to a league-best and franchise-record 16-2 mark. But the Argos’ season ended with a 38-17 home loss to eventual Grey Cup-champion Montreal in the East Division final.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2024.

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