Canadian National Hockey League star Theo Fleury, winner of a Stanley Cup ring and an Olympic gold medal does not mince words. He says that Canada is a “Disneyland for pedophiles” and I think he’s right.
Fleury was yet another victim of Graham James, the now infamous hockey coach and mentor, who sexually abused young boys under his tutelage, ruining their lives in the process. Convicted in 1997 for sexually abusing professional hockey player Sheldon Kennedy, he was then sentenced to a mere three and a half years in prison for multiple criminal counts involving Mr. Kennedy and another young man. He served only eighteen months.
It was Sheldon Kennedy who encouraged Theo Fleury to report the abuse he suffered at the hands of James in the 1980′s. The police investigated and filed new charges against Graham James, who plead guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison in March 2012.
At the time of the new charges, it came to light that Mr. James had received a federal pardon in 2007, an event that shocked the Canadian public and led to federal legislation excluding sex offenders from receiving pardons, now called “record suspensions”.
But James foolishly appealed his two-year sentence, his lawyer arguing that he should have received no jail time at all. The Manitoba Court of Appeal heard the case on December 3, 2012 and fortunately, Mr. James’ appeal strategy backfired. Today the Appeal Court increased Mr. James’ jail term from two years to five years.
In my view, the initial two-year sentence was the revictimization of Mr. Fleury and impotent sentencing for pedophiles is abhorrent, given the aftermath of damaged victims who struggle with substance addictions and broken relationships, which can be directly linked to the shame and fear emanating from the physical, emotional and psychological consequences of sexual abuse.
Kudos to Mr. Fleury who recently announced that he has taken the sentencing of pedophiles as a project to champion a change in sentencing and support other victims of these atrocious crimes. His first recommendation? Minimum sentences of fifteen years in prison for each count of sexual abuse, additional counts to run consecutively, rather than concurrently, which is the situation today.
Mr. Fleury praised the Manitoba Court of Appeal for increasing sex predator James’ sentence, calling it a good day for survivors of sexual abuse.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang