Graham James apologized to Theo Fleury, his other victims and the hockey community at large during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday. CTV captured much of what was said, including James’ statements.
“I stand before you with regret,” James said. “I apologize to the Canadian hockey public … and to the institution of hockey. I apologize to the people and fans in communities where I coached. I apologize to the players that I coached.
“I apologize to Theoren Fleury and to Todd Holt. I wanted the best for you but did not give you my best. My actions forfeited our friendship.”
James’ lawyer is calling for a 12-18 month community sentence that wouldn’t involve jail time, arguing that the court should not “sentence to appease the public.”
While Fleury wasn’t on hand for the hearing, his written appeal argues for James to face a 27-year sentence and includes this haunting excerpt:
“When you consider punishment for Graham James I ask this court to think not only about the law, but also about that scared little boy who had nowhere to turn, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide each and every time Graham James raped me,” Fleury’s statement said.
“I did not have the emotional skills, the knowledge or the ability to stop the rapes or change my circumstances. I felt lost, alone, and helpless.”
Fleury said that James assaulted him on about 150 different occasions.
A pyschiatrist’s report indicates that James needs treatment for “deeply engrained erotic preferences” while his representative said that he’s not the “beast everyone thinks he is.”
Although Fleury and former teammate Sheldon Kennedy hope for a lengthy jail term, they acknowledge the stronger possibility for a much lighter community punishment instead.
“You know, Graham James is going to walk — again,” Kennedy said. “That’s not right.”