Bombers released Jalen Saunders due to sexual assault allegations: report

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

New details have emerged regarding the release of Jalen Saunders by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week after a woman came forward to Winnipeg police claiming the CFL receiver sexually assaulted her over the May long weekend.

According to a report from Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press, a 22-year-old woman has filed a formal complaint alleging that Saunders pressed to enter her apartment after a night out at a restaurant and pressured her for sex. She then claims Saunders assaulted her over a period of several hours despite repeated pleas for him to stop.

The Bombers formally released the receiver on Wednesday morning after learning of the accusations. The team provided the following statement to the Winnipeg Free Press:

“On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, the (team) was made aware, via social media, of an alleged sexual assault involving one of our players, Jalen Saunders. Immediately, our club advised the individual who came forward to notify the Winnipeg police. At the same time, we began our internal review of the off-field incident, following the CFL policy of violence against women.

After our internal review, this player was immediately released from the roster by our organization. The Winnipeg Football Club takes violence against women and sexual assault seriously, and thanks the individuals for coming forward on this matter.”

Saunders signed with the Bombers in April and was expected to be one of the players in the mix to replace Kenny Lawler, who left Winnipeg to sign a lucrative contract in Edmonton in free agency.

Saunders burst onto the CFL scene with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2017, finishing the season as one of three Ticats receivers to go over 1,000 receiving yards. Saunders was well on his way to superstardom in 2018 before a knee injury ended his sophomore campaign on Labour Day.

Saunders signed with the Ottawa Redblacks ahead of the cancelled 2020 season and re-signed with the team prior to the 2021 season but never played a down for the club after a  car accident last May kept him off the field.

In 25 games with Hamilton, Saunders caught 121 passes for 1,909 yards and six touchdowns. The Ticats re-signed Saunders ahead of the 2019 season as he was rehabbing from his injury but released him prior to the start of the season.

Winnipeg Police have confirmed that a complaint was filed matching the report number provided to the Free Press by the alleged victim. Formal charges have not been filed against Saunders, who has since returned home to the United States, and the allegations have not been proven in court.