Lawyer for suspended CFLer says Chris Larsen cleared after talking to cops

TORONTO — A lawyer for a suspended CFL player says his client is not a suspect in a possible hate crime.

Calvin Barry, the lawyer for Chris Larsen, says the Ottawa Redblacks defensive lineman talked to police and has been cleared for an alleged assault on Toronto Island on June 5.

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The Redblacks suspended Larsen on June 9 after saying the player was being investigated by police.

Toronto Police said Wednesday an investigation is ongoing and that suspects have never been named.

The Redblacks said Wednesday that Larsen's status is unchanged.

Barry said Larsen made the decision to talk to police.

"He was never arrested. He went in on his own, he gave a statement, he didn't clam up, he didn't hide behind a lawyer," Barry said.

Barry said he has approached the Redblacks about the club lifting its suspension of Larsen.

"Once you're suspended that just fuels the fire and the naysayers and tweeters can say, 'Look he's been suspended now.' I feel sorry for this young lad because he has no prior criminal record, no outstanding charges," Barry said.

Investigators previously said a man and a woman were walking to the docks June 5 when a disagreement broke out between them and a group of other people.

Police say a man from that group made the comments, and two men from the group assaulted the male victim, leaving him with significant injuries.

Officers said they were seeking three suspects — two men and a woman.

On the night of the suspension, Mark Goudie, the CEO of the Redblacks’ parent company, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, said ""We are particularly sorry for the trauma caused to the 2SLGBTQ+ community."

Larsen, 25, has not played a game in the CFL.

The Toronto native was picked in the sixth round, 54th overall, by the Redblacks in the 2019 CFL draft out of the University of Manitoba.

Larsen returned to Manitoba for the 2019 season.

The 2020 CFL season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the league has announced 2021 training camp will start next month with the season opening in August.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2021.

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