Disgraced hockey coach Graham James granted day parole
Published Monday, January 25, 2016 1:40PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 25, 2016 4:38PM EST
Graham James, a former junior hockey coach imprisoned for sexually abusing several players, has been granted day parole.
The National Parole Board granted James day parole with strict conditions. The board said it would be premature to grant his request for full parole.
James has faced multiple sex charges involving Western Hockey League players he coached in the early 1990s.
James served 3 1/2 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in 1997 to sex offences against Sheldon Kennedy and two other players. Kennedy, who played for the Swift Current Broncos at the time of the assaults, went on to play in the National Hockey League.
James sought and received a pardon for those offences in 2007, but was back in court years later when Todd Holt and his cousin, retired Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury, came forward with a new set of allegations.
James pleaded guilty and was initially sentenced to two years in 2012. An Appeal Court increased the sentence to five years, and although he has been eligible for full parole, James had never made an application.
New charges were laid in May, 2015, following an investigation that began after the RCMP received a complaint in September 2013.
James pleaded guilty the next month, and was sentenced to an additional two years on top of the five-year sentence he had nearly completed serving at the time.
In an interview with CTV News Channel on Monday, Kennedy called the ordeal a "never-ending story," and was skeptical that James had changed his ways.
Kennedy said that James manipulated the hockey world and others by coming across as someone who is "trustworthy" and parents "would never second guess" him being around their children.
"When I heard today that (James) understood that his actions were hurtful, to me it was just a sense that is the way (James) operates," Kennedy said.
Fleury also denounced the parole board’s decision on Twitter.
By granting day parole the Canadian justice system just kept more victims of rape silent and feeling more shame today!!!!! #wasntyourfault— Theo Fleury (@TheoFleury14) January 25, 2016
With files from CTV’s Montreal Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin and The Canadian Press