Redblacks talk violence against women after defensive back charged

Redblacks players say they're standing firmly behind the CFL's tough violence against women policy in light of recent sexual assault charges against defensive back Teague Sherman.

Team cut defensive back Teague Sherman earlier this month after he was charged with sexual assault

Ottawa Redblacks players share their thoughts on taking mandatory training aimed at preventing violence against women. 1:00

Redblacks players say they're standing firmly behind the CFL's tough violence against women policy in light of the recent cut of defensive back Teague Sherman.

In mid-July, Ottawa police charged Sherman with two counts of sexual assault in connection to alleged incidents in 2017. 

The league took action after the Redblacks cut Sherman, barring other teams from signing the player.

Although Redblacks players didn't answer questions about Sherman specifically, several of them told CBC News they wouldn't want to play with someone accused of violence against women.

Brad Sinopoli, wide receiver

(Pierre-Paul Couture/CBC)

"If there was a situation with a teammate like that, then that's not someone that I want to be playing with anyway."

"When you hear it in the media, you don't understand how prominent it was in the past. But to have guys step up and say things that aren't talked about, that's huge. It makes you aware. When they talk through scenarios maybe you understand what is abuse and what isn't abuse even if it doesn't look physical."

SirVincent Rogers, offensive lineman

(Judy Trinh/CBC)

"We're not just football players. We're held to a certain standard and rightfully so. At the end of the day we've got to be role models and good men to kids and anyone looking into our lives trying to get inspiration from what we do. There comes a lot of responsibility and I wouldn't give guys a pass."

Antoine Pruneau, defensive back

(Judy Trinh/CBC)

"Sometimes people are shy to step in, especially on a football team. There is an intimidation factor in the locker room. Some guys are just intimidating in their presence and you sometimes experience [peer] pressure. You see something you disapprove of or hear four or five guys laughing, it is hard to step in. But once one or two guys [intervene] it will be easier to carry on."

CFL's policy

The CFL adopted its policy on violence against women in 2015, outlining what actions the league will take in cases of domestic and sexual violence, but also in cases where women are disrespected and demeaned.

Once a victim comes forward, the CFL asks an expert on violence against women to reach out to police and ask if the victim is receiving counselling if required.

Matt Maychak, vice-president of public affairs with the CFL, said this is routine when the victim is known. He's unsure if the alleged victim in the Sherman case was offered help by the league since she has not been publicly identified.

As well, every player and employee must take a mandatory seminar about preventing violence against women.

Bailey Reid is a consultant for the Ottawa Redblacks, and runs a seminar for players and staff on preventing violence against women. (Judy Trinh/CBC)

In Ottawa, that seminar is led by Bailey Reid, a support worker for victims of sexual assault who works for the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women. Reid said women need allies and applauds the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group for extending the training to all its sports teams.

Reid teaches players how to recognize abuse and discusses techniques they can use to intervene.

With the rise of the #MeToo movement, Reid said she's often questioned about consent.

"The conversation around consent and drinking is one of the most complex ones," Reid said. "Many wonder if they have crossed the line when they're drinking, or wonder if someone felt coerced when they were drinking."

Reid encourages men to pay attention to what a woman is feeling or doing instead of asking about the legal threshold for alcohol consumption.

About the Author

Judy Trinh

CBC Reporter

Judy Trinh is a veteran reporter who covers a diverse range of stories from breaking crime news to the strange and off-beat. She aims to find the human element in all her stories. Contact her: Judy.Trinh@cbc.ca