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

A representative for the office of Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu says the new Red Deer drug treatment court is expected to be operational by the middle of 2022. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer drug treatment court expected to be up and running no later than mid-2022

The Government of Alberta expects the new Red Deer drug treatment court… Continue reading

Environment Canada says rain Tuesday evening will turn to snow. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Expect wet snow Tuesday night central Alberta

Heavy wet snow could accumlate with the potential for broken tree branches

FILE - In this Thursday, April 29, 2021 file photo, giant bucket-wheel excavators extract coal at the controversial Garzweiler surface coal mine near Jackerath, west Germany. A report by the International Energy Agency on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 says immediate action is needed to reshape the world’s energy sector in order to meet ambitious climate goals by 2050. This includes ending investments in new coal mines, oil and gas wells. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
Energy agency: End new fossil fuel supply investments

IEA report sets out 400 steps to transform how energy is produced, transported and used

A man inspects the rubble of destroyed commercial building and Gaza health care clinic following an Israeli airstrike on the upper floors of a commercial building near the Health Ministry in Gaza City, on Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Strike from Gaza kills 2 as Israel topples 6-story building

Latest attack from Gaza on Tuesday hits packaging plant

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A review by the national spy watchdog has found inconsistencies when it comes to federal efforts to ensure information sharing with foreign agencies does not result in torture. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Spy watchdog calls for changes to ensure information-sharing does not lead to torture

Differences in federal departments stances when dealing with the same foreign agency creates concern

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

Sheffield United’s Daniel Jebbison celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Sheffield United at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Alex Pantling/Pool via AP
Canadian teenager Daniel Jebbison turns heads with Premier League goal

Jebbison, 17, is the youngest player in Premier League history to score on his first start in England’s top tier

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie makes a comeback this summer

Last year, summer earnings were $176 million, down 96% from 2019

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2021, file photo, exile Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India. Groups alleging human-rights abuses in China are calling for a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, which is sure to ratchet up pressure on the International Olympic Committee, athletes, sponsors, and sports federations. A coalition of activists representing Uyghurs, Tibetans, residents of Hong Kong and others, issued a statement Monday, May 17, 2021 calling for the “full boycott,” eschewing lesser measures like “diplomatic boycotts" and negotiations with the IOC or China. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)
AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

AP Exclusive: Full-blown boycott pushed for Beijing Olympics

Canada's Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5 during the CP International competition at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Canada's most decorated show jumper has withdrawn from consideration for the Tokyo Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze withdraws from Tokyo short list

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse questions a foul call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday, April 26, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. Nurse says it was the COVID-19 outbreak in March that spiked his team's chances for a post-season run.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Chris O'Meara
Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Nurse faces a busy off-season, much busier if Canada qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Danielle Goyette speaks to reporters during a press conference in Toronto on Friday, November 10, 2017. Goyette has been named director of player development for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and their American Hockey League affiliate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette together again on Toronto Maple Leafs staff

Most Read