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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Appeal Court to rule today on Quebec City mosque shooter’s life sentence

Quebec’s highest court is scheduled to deliver its ruling today on appeals… Continue reading

Premier John Horgan speaks during a press conference in Langford, B.C., on Monday September 21, 2020. nbsp;B.C. Premier John Horgan is set to announce details of his new cabinet today in the middle of a global pandemic that will be front-and-centre of many ministerial duties. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Fresh off majority government win, B.C.’s Horgan to introduce new NDP cabinet

VICTORIA — B.C. Premier John Horgan will announce his new cabinet today… Continue reading

People embrace before the start a memorial service for Apotex billionaire couple Barry and Honey Sherman in Mississauga, Ontario on Thursday, December 21, 2017. Toronto police say they have identified a person of interest in the high-profile 2017 homicides of a billionaire philanthropist couple. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Person of interest identified but not arrested in billionaire murders: police

Toronto police say they have identified a person of interest in the… Continue reading

Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen speeds down the course during an Alpine Skiing World Cup men’s slalom, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Sunday, March. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)
Lack of snow in France moves World Cup ski races to Italy

VAL D’ISERE, France — Two men’s World Cup races scheduled in France… Continue reading

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Justice Minister David Lametti responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Liberals to present bill on single-game sports betting

Liberals to present bill on single-game sports betting

Bayern, Man City win to advance to Champions League last-16

Bayern, Man City win to advance to Champions League last-16

FILE - In this March 26, 2006 file photo, former soccer player Diego Maradona smokes a cigar as he watches Argentina's first division soccer match between Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentine soccer great who was among the best players ever and who led his country to the 1986 World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, died from a heart attack on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, at his home in Buenos Aires. He was 60. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)
Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60

Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona dies at 60

In this July 1, 2020, photo, Salt Lake Tribune data columnist and Utah Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen poses for a photo. Larsen is a sports writer, but with much of that world sidelined during the pandemic he's been digging into coronavirus data and its sobering implications. So when he found himself with a cache of spare change, partially from his childhood piggy bank, he knew plenty of people could use it. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 18, 2020 file photo, a view of a 'Matterhorn-Express' gondola lift in front of Matterhorn mountain in the Zermatt ski resort, in Zermatt, Switzerland. Restrictions to slow the curve of coronavirus infections have kept ski lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, as well as countries further east. But skiers are already heading to mountains in Switzerland, drawing an envious gaze from ski industry and local officials in mountain regions elsewhere on the continent who lost most of last season due to the virus. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP, File)
As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015 file photo, actor John Boyega, right, pose with Star Wars characters during the Japan Premiere of their latest film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in Tokyo. Boyega stars in Steve McQueen’s “Red White and Blue,” the third film in the director’s anthology of West Indian life in London from the ‘60s through the ’80s. The five-film series will debut Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

Most Read