CFLPA files appeal for access to complete 87-page independent investigation report into Chad Kelly allegations

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

The Canadian Football League Players’ Association has filed an appeal to obtain the full 87-page report completed by independent investigators into allegations made against Toronto Argonauts’ quarterback Chad Kelly.

“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. Accountability and transparency are critical in these matters, and we have real concerns about the process and consistency applied during the CFL investigation,” the union wrote in a statement on Friday.

“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.”

The league issued a minimum nine-game suspension for Kelly on Tuesday following a conclusion to an independent third-party investigation commissioned in February. In his disciplinary decision, commissioner Randy Ambrosie claimed the report proved the reigning Most Outstanding Player “unequivocally violated” the CFL’s gender-based violence policy.

Saskatchewan-based firm Buckingham Security Services Ltd. did not make the documents publicly available due to privacy laws. An executive summary distributed to the Argonauts’ legal team and Kelly’s representation stated investigators corroborated three of the six claims made against Kelly in the original lawsuit, including “sexual harassment as defined by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

In order to be reinstated by the league, the 30-year-old QB has to attend mandatory counselling sessions conducted by a gender-based violence expert and undergo assessments by an independent expert. If he doesn’t complete the sessions and assessments to the league’s satisfaction, discipline against him could be modified.

A former team employee filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, Feb. 21 with the Ontario Superior Court, alleging Kelly “repeatedly sought to initiate romantic connections” with her throughout the 2022 and 2023 seasons. She claimed Kelly escalated his harassment on Sunday, Nov. 5 when he publicly accused her of being romantically involved with another player, an incident she alleges led to the team not renewing her contract.

None of the allegations against Kelly or the Argonauts have been tested in court.

Kelly filed his defence in the lawsuit and denied making “any romantic or sexual overtures” towards the plaintiff, including workplace sexual harassment. He stated she “advanced these spurious claims against him purely to draw the attention of the media to what was otherwise a very routine termination situation.”

In the team’s defence filing, the Argonauts claimed “no knowledge” of any behaviour by Kelly that violated the CFL’s gender-based violence policy or breached the Ontario Human Rights Code. The team claimed its conduct with the plaintiff was “all times fair, reasonable, lawful and undertaken in good faith.”

Kelly was in attendance at the Argonauts’ rookie camp on Thursday, which prompted criticism from multiple female employees around the league.

Toronto general manager Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons addressed the media following practice and defended Kelly’s presence on the field, stating he was allowed to be present at the team’s discretion under the terms of the league’s ruling. He took responsibility for his team’s alleged mishandling of the harassment claims and stressed the importance of organizational growth going forward.

Kelly’s agent, Chris Lambiris, told 3DownNation this week that his client was “looking into” his options for appeal. While that decision has not been made, the CFLPA obtaining the full report could help decide whether to back Kelly in challenging the league’s discipline.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.