A Winnipeg woman has filed a complaint with city police alleging she was sexually assaulted by Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Jalen Saunders on the May long weekend.
Police spokesman Jay Murray confirmed there’s an active complaint matching the incident-report number provided to the Free Press by the woman, and that it involves allegations of sexual assault.
No other details were released and no charges have been laid.
The woman, 22, whose identity is being withheld, contacted the Free Press and alleged Saunders, 29, had sexually assaulted her following a night out with friends.
She filed the complaint this week and is waiting to give a formal statement.
The CFL club was informed about the alleged assault on Tuesday and Saunders was cut just hours later. His release was made public Wednesday morning.
Someone close to the woman had informed the Bombers of the alleged assault.
"On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, the (team) was made aware, via social media, of an alleged sexual assault involving one of our players, Jalen Saunders," the Blue Bombers said in a written statement.
"Immediately, our club advised the individual who came forward to notify the Winnipeg police. At the same time, we began our internal review of the off-field incident, following the CFL policy of violence against women.
"After our internal review, this player was immediately released from the roster by our organization," the statement continued. "The Winnipeg Football Club takes violence against women and sexual assault seriously, and thanks the individuals for coming forward on this matter."
“The Winnipeg Football Club takes violence against women and sexual assault seriously, and thanks the individuals for coming forward on this matter.” – Blue Bombers statement
The Bombers contacted the complainant on Thursday to advise that the allegations had led to Saunders’ release.
He had signed a two-year contract last month and had been in Winnipeg in the past couple of weeks for training camp, but is currently back home in the U.S.
The woman said she met Saunders at a restaurant, and afterwards planned to attend a house party with multiple people. When the plans fell through, the woman said she offered Saunders a ride home.
When it came time to part ways, Saunders pressed to enter her apartment. The woman alleges while inside, she was pressured for sex and assaulted over a period of hours despite repeatedly pleading with him to stop.
The woman said she contacted police and spoke to the Free Press so that no one else would have to experience what she went through.
"I’m shocked that it happened. I feel violated. But I’m more so angry. I’m angry that a person can do this and then just jet back home and everything’s fine," she said. "If there’s some sort of paper trail following him, then he can’t do it to anybody else."
“I’m shocked that it happened. I feel violated. But I’m more so angry. I’m angry that a person can do this and then just jet back home and everything’s fine.” – Complainant
News of Saunders’ departure raised eyebrows given he was competing for a key role on Winnipeg’s offence. Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea was short on details when questioned Wednesday about Saunders’ sudden release.
"Every time we release anybody, there’s a variety of reasons," O’Shea said. "I don’t think we go into those reasons with everybody. You got to understand we always make decisions that are best for the team."
Saunders played 25 games in the CFL, all with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, in 2017 and 2018; registering 121 catches for 1,909 yards and six touchdowns
He hasn’t played a game since the 2018 campaign, owing to various injuries. He was a fourth-round pick of the NFL’s New York Jets in 2014.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.