Redblacks suspend DL Larsen over assault allegation
The Ottawa Redblacks announced the suspension of defensive lineman Chris Larsen on Wednesday night.
The move comes after Toronto Police informed the club that Larsen was under investigation over his alleged participation in an assault that left a man in hospital last weekend.
The alleged incident occurred on June 5 when a group of at least five people allegedly hurled slurs at the victim, who is a gay man, before attacking him.
"Late last night, we were made aware of social media allegations of an assault by a group of individuals that included Chris Larsen and immediately commenced an investigation which is ongoing. Today we were advised that an investigation by the Toronto Police is underway," Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group chief executive officer Mark Goudie said in a statement.
“I don’t pretend to know all of the specifics of this incident, but let me say this, the Redblacks and parent company Ottawa Sports and Entertainment group are proud of the role that we play in our community and we are committed to continuing to build an organization, both on and off the field, that reflects the values of our community. Diversity and inclusion are central to our organizational values and we will try our best to use our platform to help make acts of hate and violence, including homophobia, stop. We recognize there are larger systemic issues that plague our society, and as an organization, we know that we can play a role in making our community a more tolerant, respectful, educated and inclusive place.”
According to an online fundraiser for the victim, he incurred a broken nose, shattered orbital and cheek bones, a splint in his hip bone and a concussion.
“The Service’s dedicated Hate Crime Unit has been notified and is supporting officers from 52 Division with the investigation,” Toronto Police said in a news release. “This remains an active investigation and extensive inquiries are being carried out including scouring for video, recovering evidence and speaking to witnesses to establish the motive.”
A product of the University of Manitoba Bisons, the 25-year-old Larsen is a Toronto native and had yet to appear in a game with the Redblacks.
“The CFL is aware of violence against a LGBTQ2S+ community member, and the allegation that has been made against Chris Larsen, an Ottawa Redblacks player. The Redblacks, who have a strong track record of opposing violence and advocating for inclusion, have said they are suspending Larsen pending further information as a result of the investigation. We too take this allegation very seriously and look forward to the outcome. In the meantime, we want to reaffirm our values: We condemn homophobia, violence and hate. We support inclusivity and diversity. We are partners with You Can Play, the non profit organization committed to advancing inclusion in sport, which has conducted training for our football operations and our office staff in recent years. More needs to be done and we will continue to stand with the LGBTQ2S+ community,“ the CFL said in a statement.