Graham James pleads guilty to sex assaults

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Today in a Winnipeg courtroom, former junior hockey coach Graham James pleaded guilty to repeatedly sexually assaulting two of his former players, including ex-NHL star Theoren Fleury.

Via Postmedia:

Appearing via video link to a Winnipeg court room, James admitted he repeatedly molested Fleury between Sept. 1, 1983 and Aug. 31, 1985 in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

He also admitted he repeatedly molested the other victim, who cannot be named under a publication ban, between May 1, 1989 and April 30, 1994 in Winnipeg.

James was imprisoned for 3 1/2 years in 1997 after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting another former NHL player, Sheldon Kennedy, and another unnamed player about 350 times over 10 years.

Amazingly, James was pardoned by the National Parole Board in 2007, after which he moved to Mexico. But when new charges arose in 2010, a warrant was issued for his arrest and he returned to Canada.

Following today’s guilty plea, Fleury ripped the Canadian justice system in a statement.

“Graham James pled guilty years ago,” said Fleury, “and then he was granted a pardon, after he was found in Mexico and brought back to Canada on these charges he was given bail, then plea bargained for 14 months — this is what the mighty Canadian justice system allowed a previously convicted child rapist to do.”

Fleury also warned that James would reoffend again if given the opportunity.

“There is no changing a monster like that,” he said. “Defence lawyers can package up their clients in fancy words and lengthy legal maneuvers, but how they sleep at night knowing they are aiding and abetting a rapist is beyond me.”

The Winnipeg Free Press has a more detailed look at the life of Graham James.

According to CBC, James will be sentenced on Feb. 22, 2012.