Suspended QB Chad Kelly withdraws from Argos’ training camp, wants to ‘earn reinstatement in the CFL’

Photo: Timothy Matwey/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Toronto Argonauts’ quarterback Chad Kelly has broken his silence since being issued a minimum nine-game suspension after a league investigation found he “unequivocally violated” its gender-based violence policy.

“I have had to take time to process the findings from the CFL investigation released last week as they were not consistent with the person I am, nor the team and community leader I strive to be. I want to be the leader who brings people together and I strongly believe that all workplaces should be safe and healthy for every member of the team,” Kelly wrote in a statement.

“While my legal team awaits the legal findings for review, and explores options to clarify a number of the conclusions from the report, and considers next steps, I will take full advantage of this counselling opportunity to learn, grow and better myself. At the same time, I want to support the Argonauts organization as it prepares for the season and have made the decision to withdraw from training camp to minimize distractions for the team and to put in the work to earn both reinstatement in the CFL and everyone’s trust. I look forward to getting back on the field soon.”

Saskatchewan-based firm Buckingham Security Services Ltd., the independent third party that conducted the investigation, did not make its 87-page report publicly available due to privacy laws. An executive summary distributed to the Argonauts’ legal team and Kelly’s representation stated that investigators corroborated three of six claims made against Kelly in the lawsuit, including “sexual harassment as defined by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

To have a chance at being reinstated by the three-down league, the six-foot-two, 216-pound passer must 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 CFL’s satisfaction, discipline against him could be modified.

In February, a former team employee filed a lawsuit 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 last November 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 or proven 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 Argos’ defence filing, the team claims “no knowledge” of any behaviour by Kelly that violated the league’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, which prompted criticism from multiple female employees around the league. General manager Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons addressed the media following that practice and defended Kelly’s presence on the field, though he also took responsibility for his team’s alleged mishandling of the harassment claims.

On the opening day of training camp, the Argos announced Kelly is “currently not participating in team activities” and the team’s media relations department told 3DownNation head coach Ryan Dinwiddie would only be speaking about players on the field.

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