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Former Junior Hockey Coach Graham James Pleads Guilty to Sex Charges

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By Daniel Distant, Christian Post Reporter
December 8, 2011|12:39 pm

Following in the infamous footsteps of Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine, Graham James, a former junior hockey coach, plead guilty to new charges of sexual abuse Wednesday.

The latest scandal in a slew of sports-related sexual offenses bears some similarities to the other publicized cases.

However, James, 59, distinguishes himself by admitting his crimes against two former NHL players - one of them the hotheaded former Calgary Flame, Theoren Fleury - albeit years after they were actually committed.

James admitted his wrongdoings by pleading guilty in Winnipeg Wednesday. He had been accused of nine sexual abuses with three former junior hockey players spanning from 1979 to 1994, but originally only acknowledged two of the crimes.

James was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison last time he was condemned as a pedophile, and after his sentence, fled to Guadalajara, Mexico. When authorities found him in 2007, he was pardoned.

The former junior hockey coach is set to be sentenced in February of 2012.

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Now, ever since the release of his book Playing with Fire, Fleury alleges that James had been abusing him since he was 14, threatening the then-young prodigy that his NHL dreams would vanish unless he cooperated.

Similar to victims of Sandusky and Fine, Fleury complied and was silent, even when another NHL player, Sheldon Kelly, came forward. Only six years ago did Fleury finally talk about the incidents.

Fleury, one of the most vocal advocates of sexual abuse since his victimization by James, spoke out in a press conference yesterday, lambasting the Canadian government for their lenient stance on child molesters and criticizing James.

“(James) is guilty. When he gets out of prison, he will do it again and again and again,” said the former hockey right wing. “There’s no changing a monster like that.”

Fleury decried the “mighty Canadian government,” who allowed a convicted abuser like James to plea bargain for 18 months, and now, has the option of bail. The motivational speaker also claims that almost a fourth of Canada’s population - almost 8 million people - have been molested at some time in their lives, making it an “epidemic” of depravity.

Despite the troubling admissions by James, Fleury asserts that there is a silver lining in the scandal - his choice to become an advocate. He believes that God was responsible for his emergence from drug and alcohol abuse to a better life.

“God picked me to go through this, ‘cause He knew I would get through it,’” Fleury told the press, “and once I got through it, I would start to do His work for Him.”

 

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