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CFL says former Rider Justin Cox still banned despite assault acquittal

REGINA — The commissioner of the Canadian Football League says a former Saskatchewan Roughrider still can't play in the CFL even though he was found not guilty of assault causing bodily harm.
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REGINA — The commissioner of the Canadian Football League says a former Saskatchewan Roughrider still can't play in the CFL even though he was found not guilty of assault causing bodily harm.

Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge says the acquittal of Justin Cox does not change the league's position.

"Mr. Cox is currently not under contract with a CFL team and, if a team were to attempt to sign him, the contract would not be registered by the commissioner's office," said a statement from Orridge released Tuesday.

Chris Jones, Riders general manager and head coach, said he had not spoken to Cox, but he shut down the idea of the defensive back returning to the team.

"He's a great player. He's in fact probably the best cover guy that I've ever coached," Jones said at training camp Tuesday.

"But it comes down to principle. We're very aware of the history of him and then with the current event, it just made it where principle-wise I could not put the club or our team in that situation, so that's the decision that we've made and we're sticking to it."

The Riders released Cox when he was charged after an alleged domestic dispute in April. The CFL also announced at that time that Cox would no longer be allowed to play in the league.

He was arrested after Regina police were called April 18 about a 23-year-old woman who had injuries consistent with a physical attack.

On Monday, a provincial court judge in Regina found Cox not guilty. Judge Pat Reis heard from five Crown witnesses before stating that there wasn't evidence to support the charge.

Cox, 24, said after the trial that he hoped to resume his career with the Riders.

"Hopefully I can get to wear that green and white again and you know, play football again, period," he told The Canadian Press in an interview.

Cox signed with the Riders as a free agent last May.

The former Mississippi State player signed a two-year extension with the Roughriders in December after he recorded 42 defensive tackles and four interceptions in 15 games. He was named the team's most outstanding rookie.

The contract with the Riders was signed while Cox faced domestic violence charges in the United States.

In July 2015, he was charged with aggravated assault, domestic violence and burglary in Starkville, Miss. Circuit court indicates he is to go to trial July 31 on those charges.

Cox was previously arrested in Mississippi in November 2014 and charged with domestic violence.

Oktibbeha County Justice Court records say the alleged victim didn't want to prosecute him and the charge was retired to file, which is similar to staying the charges in Canada.

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press