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Independent investigation corroborates three of six allegations against Kelly


The independent investigation into claims of harassment against Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly corroborates three of six allegations made against him in a recent lawsuit, according to the executive summary of an 87-page report that was obtained Thursday by TSN.

The summary of the investigation, commissioned by the Canadian Football League in February after a former strength and conditioning coach brought a civil suit against Kelly and the team, was delivered to the Argonauts, Kelly’s agent, Chris Lambiris, and legal representatives for the former coach earlier this week.

The investigation was performed by Buckingham Security Services Ltd., a Saskatchewan-based company specializing in business investigations and security solutions.

According to the summary, investigators concluded Kelly did make persistent advances on the former coach, which constitute “sexual harassment as defined by the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

Among the evidence supporting the finding of sexual harassment are copies of text messages from Kelly to the former coach in September of 2023, including one in which Kelly invites her to his hotel room in Hamilton, one in which Kelly asks her over to his place, and another in which she tells another Argos employee of the persistent invitations from Kelly.

The executive summary also supports two other allegations – that Kelly acted aggressively towards the former coach when confronted in the team breakfast room on the morning of Nov. 6, 2023, and that later that same day Kelly yelled derogatory words at the former coach.

Three other allegations investigated and documented in the report – that Kelly made public accusations about the former coach being involved with another Argonauts player, that Kelly threatened her, and that the quarterback was involved in the team’s decision not to renew her contract – could not be corroborated by investigators.

The CFL announced Tuesday that Kelly was suspended for a minimum of nine games and two pre-season games for violating the league’s policy on gender-based violence and will be required to undergo counselling and an assessment before a return to the field could be granted. The league also reserves the right to extend his suspension.

Kelly, who attended Argos rookie camp on Thursday in Guelph, Ont., has not indicated whether he will appeal the suspension.

On the allegation that Kelly made public accusations about the former coach being involved with a teammate on a team bus on Nov. 5, 2023, the report states the investigation found that “while present and participating in the conversations, Kelly was reportedly not the source of the original comments.”

The morning after the conversation on the bus, the former coach confronted Kelly at the team breakfast area at BMO Field over what she heard he’d said on the bus the previous day.

The former coach told investigators she felt she could address the issue with Kelly, but he went into a “rage, throwing his plate down and screaming at her.” She told investigators she believed Kelly was trying to intimidate her.

Kelly described the interaction differently to investigators, saying the former coach started yelling at him before he had begun his breakfast and he left the scene, feeling attacked and accused of something “he did not do or say,” according to the summary.  

The investigators were not able to talk to any witnesses to that event but concluded that harassment took place.

“This exchange – shouting, swearing and making aggressive gestures, caused [the former coach] to be nervous and fearful,” the summery states. “This constitutes harassment.”

Witnesses were interviewed in relation to another incident an hour later that same day, when Kelly allegedly yelled derogatory words at the former coach and stated that he could not wait until she was fired.

While the former coach and Kelly offered investigators differing versions of what happened, head strength coach Usama Mujtaba, who was sitting at the same table as the former coach, told investigators he remembered that Kelly looked at them and said, “that b---h is no good at her job.”

Another Argos player, who was sitting two or three tables away having breakfast by himself, told investigators he remembered Kelly saying to Mujtaba “f--k that b---h,” and then saying something about her being fired on his way out of the room.

Kelly denied to investigators that he made those comments or that he wanted the former coach fired.

“Shouting, swearing and making demeaning comments toward [the former coach] constitutes harassment,” the summary reads. “The allegation is supported.”

As for Kelly’s alleged involvement in the former coach’s contract not being renewed, the report documents that the Argos wanted to shift her role into one that required sports science qualifications.

“Usama Mujtaba never previously heard Kelly say anything about wanting [the former coach] removed from the organization and never had any conversations with him about her,” according to the report.

On the allegation of Kelly making threats toward the former coach, the summary says that in the week leading up to the East Division Final on Nov. 11, an Argonauts player told [the former coach] that a teammate had told him that Kelly had said, “That b---h is lucky I didn’t hit her.”

“Kelly denied making any such comment. Attempts were made to interview [the player who allegedly heard the comment]; however, he refused to participate in the investigation,” the summary states.

The investigation stems from a lawsuit launched on Feb. 21 by the former coach, alleging a pattern of harassment by Kelly. She also alleges the Argos did not act when told of Kelly's behaviour. The allegations have not been proven in court.

The former coach filed an amended lawsuit on April 2 in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto. TSN does not publish the names of alleged victims of abuse and harassment without their permission. She is seeking $80,000 from Kelly and a total of $85,714 from the Argonauts.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced on Feb. 28 that an independent investigator had been hired to look into the allegations.

The Argonauts and Kelly each filed statements of defence last week related to the lawsuits. Kelly’s statement of defence states that he “denies that he ever made any romantic or sexual overtures at [the former coach] at any time.”

In the Argonauts statement of defence, the club insists that the former coach, who was not retained after the 2023 season, was on a fixed-term agreement and that it was under no obligation to continue her employment.

The team’s statement of defence also states that the football club has “no knowledge of any behaviour of Kelly that engaged the CFL’s policy on gender-based violence or was in breach of the Ontario Human Rights Code.”

Argonauts general manager Mike “Pinball” Clemons said Thursday that the issue was “between two people” but also said the club was committed to reviewing its work environment so that similar situations would not occur again.