Ex-junior hockey coach Graham James gets day parole in Quebec

Graham James, a former junior hockey coach who sexually abused players, was granted day parole on Monday.

LAVAL, Que. — Graham James, a former junior hockey coach who sexually abused players, was granted day parole on Monday.

James, 62, appeared before the National Parole Board at a federal prison north of Montreal.

The release comes with strict conditions and falls short of the full parole he was seeking.

The board said full parole would be premature right now and that James needs to show more empathy.

James is currently serving a seven-year sentence for sexually assaulting players he coached in the late 1980s and early ’90s with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.

The conditions include a ban on being in contact with anyone under 18 and a prohibition on having direct or indirect contact with his victims.

He must also tell a case worker about any would-be or actual relationships.

James pleaded guilty last June to more charges involving a player who described the former junior hockey coach as his tormentor and his demon.

A judge in Saskatchewan accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence that called for two years to be added to the five-year sentence James had almost finished serving on other charges.

It was the third time James faced sex charges involving players he coached.

He served 42 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in 1997 to sex offences against Sheldon Kennedy and two others. Kennedy played for the Broncos at the time of the assaults and went on to play in the National Hockey League.

James sought and received a pardon for those offences in 2007, but he was back in court a few years later when Todd Holt and his cousin, retired Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury, came forward with a new set of allegations.

James pleaded guilty and was initially sentenced to two years in 2012. An appeals court increased the sentence to five years.

Fleury tweeted his reaction on Monday to the parole board’s decision.

“By granting day parole the Canadian justice system just kept more victims of rape silent and feeling more shame today!!!!!,” he said.

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