Fleury says James trial took heavy toll
Former NHL player Theoren Fleury talks about the Graham James case during a press conference in Calgary, Alta. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. (Larry MacDougal / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, April 5, 2012 8:03PM EDT
Former Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury says he is taking time away from the public eye, following the trial of Graham James, his former junior hockey coach and tormentor.
Earlier reports suggested that Fleury had been struggling with substance use, but the hockey star said that isn't true.
"It never ceases to amaze me how much the media tries to read into everything, i.e. my blog post about focusing on taking care of myself and my family with expert counselors because of the stress and strain the court case with Graham James has caused for me," he stated.
"There are those who now believe I've suffered a relapse, so let me be clear: I have not suffered a relapse."
Earlier, Fleury said in a message on his website Thursday that he is taking time off following the stress of the Graham James trial.
"These past few months have been tougher than I anticipated," Fleury wrote.
A Manitoba court handed James a two-year sentence last month for child sexual assault -- a sentence that many critics have said is too lenient for the convicted sex abuser.
The sentence came after James, 59, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing Fleury and his younger cousin, Todd Hold. The abuse occurred during the 1980s and early 90s, when James was a junior hockey coach.
During the trial and prior to it, Fleury has been a public advocate for sex abuse victims, and an outspoken critic of James.
But Fleury now admits that the intense publicity and interest surrounding the trial left him vulnerable.
"Not many people have to give public interviews and answer questions about their rapists for weeks on end. I have. And I thought I was powering through it, that it wasn't affecting me all that much. I was wrong," Fleury wrote.