James granted full parole on sex convictions

Convicted sex offender Graham James, the disgraced former junior hockey coach who abused players under his charge, was granted full parole Thursday.

  • Sep. 15, 2016 1:05 p.m.

LAVAL, Que. — Convicted sex offender Graham James, the disgraced former junior hockey coach who abused players under his charge, was granted full parole Thursday.

The decision was handed down by the Parole Board of Canada following a hearing at a federal penitentiary in Laval, north of Montreal.

James, 64, is serving a federal sentence for sexually assaulting players he coached in the late 1980s and early ’90s with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.

James, who works in technology sales in Montreal, was granted day parole in January and the board members agreed Thursday he’s shown progress over the past months, presents a low risk to reoffend and is ready to move to the next phase of his rehabilitation.

News of the decision was swiftly denounced by some of James’ victims.

Ex-NHL star Theoren Fleury repeated in a statement that “Canada is the Disneyland for pedophiles” as he prepared to speak to high school students in Vernon, B.C.

“With this judgment we are now, as always, to continue to focus on the path of healing and forgiveness,” Fleury said. “If you are looking for closure from the justice system, this in many cases will never happen.”

Victims’ rights advocate Sheldon Kennedy, another of James’ victims and a former NHLer, tweeted: “My thoughts are with his victims that struggle every day … and all victims.”

Fleury, Kennedy and Fleury’s cousin, Todd Holt, are among the six former players James has been convicted of sexually assaulting hundreds of times.

On Thursday, James said there were likely around 20 victims, but that most were “one-time touching” and that anyone he’d spent a lot of time with had come forward.

The parole board keyed in on the impact his crimes had on his victims.

Board member Marc Gold read some of the victim statements: one said James took away his “soul and dignity,” while another said the assaults left him a “broken and battered” man. Another was ready to commit suicide.

James told the hearing he didn’t see himself as a sexual predator at the time and that “rational thinking went by the wayside.”

He said he was homosexual at a time when he claims it wasn’t acceptable and his victims bore the brunt of his inability to have a healthy sexual life.

James described his acts as “horrific.”

“I feel ashamed, I feel that I failed the people for whom I had the greatest responsibility and to whom I was closest,” James said.

“It was a great failure in my life that I let them down.”

Under full parole, James will now serve the remainder of his sentence in the community.

There are several conditions attached that forbid James from being in a position of trust with minors and he cannot communicate with his victims or their families.

The conditions will remain in place until his seven-year sentence expires in 2019.

Just Posted

Man from Olds killed in collision near Sundre

A 39-year-old man from Olds was killed in a collision near Sundre… Continue reading

Tips to keep crime at bay this Christmas

’Tis the season for joy and celebration, but the Christmas season can… Continue reading

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

Updated: Collision expert backs version of crash of driver accused of manslaughter

Daniel Newsham accused of manslaughter in fatal 2016 collision

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Tkachuk’s goal in 3rd gives Flames 2-1 win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Matthew Tkachuk scored the go-ahead goal midway through… Continue reading

Women use scent to lure wolf-dog that ran away from Calgary airport

EDMONTON — A woman from Alberta is thanking an unconventional strategy for… Continue reading

Suspect in Alberta, Saskatchewan bank robberies to get mental assessment

MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — A former Winnipeg broadcaster and journalism instructor accused… Continue reading

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says his government hopes to make legal changes… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $60 million jackpot… Continue reading

All evacuation orders lifted in deadly California wildfire

PARADISE, Calif. — All evacuation orders have been lifted in Paradise more… Continue reading

All aflutter about our feathered friends

Christmas Bird Count will be held Dec. 23

Baylor ties pervade rape case that sparked uproar

DALLAS — The Texas judge who approved a plea deal allowing a… Continue reading

Most Read