May 13, 2010, 6:50 PM EDT
CBC News and The Globe and Mail reporters found pardoned sex offender and former junior hockey coach Graham James living in Mexico. The stomach-turning story is captured here by Greg McArthur.
With dozens of hungry patrons jostling for position at the El Super taco stand, and nuns weaving between double-parked cars, the retired hockey coach carrying a bag of dirty laundry blends neatly into the chaotic street scene.
If Graham James was looking for anonymity, he has found it in this city of six million people, Mexico’s second largest. His slow, deliberate footsteps show no trace of panic – despite the political firestorm he has created in Canada, where it was recently revealed he obtained a behind-closed-doors pardon for hundreds of sexual assaults he committed on two teenage hockey players.
“I’m impressed that you found me,” Mr. James said when approached last week by a team of journalists from The Globe and Mail and CBC, conducting a joint investigation. “But not that I’ve been hiding.”
In April, it was publicly revealed that Mr. James had quietly obtained a pardon from the National Parole Board in 2007. The former junior hockey coach served a 3½-year prison sentence in the late 1990s, after he admitted to sexually assaulting two of his teenaged players more than 300 times.
This is heavy stuff for Pro Hockey Talk, but I’d feel foolish if I ignored a story about one of hockey’s most notorious figures. Discussing shady pardons is, however, outside of my rank but I will say that it’s disgusting that a little power can cause a miscarriage of justice time and time again. Sports coaches, sadly, are often in a position of authority with young, confused people and there times when the worst can happen.
Former NHL great Theo Fleury recently stated that James also sexually assaulted him in his autobiography “Playing with Fire.” (Though it must be noted that Fleury never pressed charges for the alleged claims.) Fleury said that he wasn’t surprised to see his former coach and alleged predator in another country. If there’s a silver lining, the sighting perhaps gave alleged victims such as Fleury a sense of closure. The CBC had Fleury’s reaction.
“He is a shell of his former self, that is for sure,” Fleury said after seeing James on television. “I remember him being a guy that was very confident and very arrogant, and he was none of that.”
Fleury also described seeing his former coach on TV as part of his healing process.
“I knew at some point that I would either have to see him, you know, on television or maybe face-to-face,” he said.
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