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The Y2K Archives: Praise And Awards For The Sheldon Kennedy Story

Back in 1996, who would have thought that Sheldon Kennedy would become a newsmaker that would continue to shine like a star for three years after departing the NHL? Judging by the way things have gone, he will continue to make a name for himself, albeit a little quieter now that he's out of the public eye. This was the year that the made-for-TV movie, The Sheldon Kennedy Story, would get its recognition.

The Y2K archives are below.

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The Dark Side of Youth Sports: Coaches Sexually Abusing Children

Former Blue Jays Outfielder Goes Public With Abuse

CTV Drama "The Sheldon Kennedy Story" Saves English Canada From Banff "Rockie" Shutout

It's Alright To Question

Victim Wants To Help Others

Dley Gone as WHL Commissioner

Sheldon Kennedy: Portrait of an Ultimate Hero

The Sheldon Game

Gemini Salute


Canada releases fund knowledge for The Sheldon Kennedy Story:

Name: 3543781 Canada Inc.
Place: Calgary
Description: The "Sheldon Kennedy Story" made for TV movie
Amount: $390,000
Name: 3543781 Canada Inc.
Place: Calgary Description: The "Sheldon Kennedy Story" Phase II
Amount: $15,000

This information came from taxpayer.com.

The dark side of youth sports: Coaches sexually abusing children

By Leonard D Zaichkowsky
USA Today
Jan 2000

Society must initiate programs to educate youngsters about illicit sexual contact by adults who coach them, as well as establish a code of conduct for those who work with kids and sports.

"MANY OF THOSE involved in sports believe that athletic participation has the capacity to teach youngsters positive life lessons and help establish habits of character. However, reports of sexual deviancy and abuse among professional, collegiate, and high school athletes make people pause.

Particularly distressing are reports of sport leaders and coaches sexually abusing children.

It is not easy to define sexual abuse by coaches, but let us assume a continuum of sexual misconduct. At one end there are behaviors such as listening to and telling sexist jokes, where it could be argued there is low potential for harm to the recipient. Behaviors that have potential for harm include inappropriate romantic relationships with athletes, sexual harassment, and inappropriate fondling (behavior pedophiles commonly engage in). Acts that have a higher potential for harm include threats and violence as well as sexual assault. Behavior at the farthest end of the continuum that has the highest potential for victim harm is rape.

In the 1997 update of its coaching handbook, USA Hockey, the governing body of amateur hockey in America, indicated that "Sexual abuse of a minor participant occurs when an employee, volunteer or independent contractor touches a minor participant for the purpose of causing sexual arousal or gratification of either the minor participant or the employee, volunteer or independent contractor. Sexual abuse of a minor participant also occurs when a minor player touches an employee, volunteer or independent contractor for the sexual arousal or sexual gratification of either the minor participant or the employee, volunteer or independent contractor, if the touching occurs at the request or with the consent of the employee, volunteer or independent contractor." Further, "neither consent of the player to the sexual contact, mistake as to the participant's age, nor the fact that the sexual contact did not take place at a hockey function are defenses to a complaint of sexual abuse."

It is difficult to get an accurate estimate of the extent of sexual abuse in youth sports for the same reasons that it is difficult to pin down the nature and extent of sexual abuse in the population at large. One cannot rely on data obtained from legal authorities because most victims rarely report the assault to anyone, let alone the police, since they have feelings of shame, guilt, powerlessness, and despair. Compounding these feelings is the fact that, in practically all cases, they knew and trusted the perpetrator, so they feel that somehow they were to blame.

Caption: Sheldon Kennedy (right), a former Boston Bruin, was sexually abused by Graham James, his coach in youth hockey in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, for five years beginning in 1984, when Kennedy was 14. James received a 42-month jail sentence for his crimes.

That leaves data obtained bv researchers in the fields of psychology and social work. Many researchers fail to document clearly how they defined sexual abuse. so the reader does not know if it is of the type that has low or high potential for harm to the child. Second, there is the problem of methods used to collect data. Most researchers use questionnaires and/or interviews that require retrospective recall of abuse. For instance, they might ask adults whether they were ever sexually abused as a child.

Although this methodology is widely used and accepted. its accuracy can be questioned due to faulty memory, denial because of guilt or shame, and, in
some cases, false positive recall due to "suggestion" during the interview.
Researchers also have been criticized for using the words "sexual abuse" in their questionnaires or interviews, thus leaving it up to the subject to interpret what is meant by the term. Researchers should provide clear behavioral descriptions of experiences that enable the subject to answer either yes or nosuch as "someone fondled vou in a sexual way (i.e., touched your genitals or other parts of your body)."

Third, estimates from these studies have examined varied populations, with different prevalence rates between samples of college students and other community samples, by socioeconomic status, and among different Countries of the world. For example in a study that used data from 19 countries in addition to the U.S. and Canada, the researchers found sexual abuse prevalence to range from seven to 36% for women and three to 29% for men.

Experts agree that these prevalence rates are underestimates of actual sexual abuse cases. The National Foundation to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse estimates that one of three girls and one of six boys will be subject to some form of sexual abuse by age 16.

What happens in youth sports in the U.S., where approximately 50% of all youngsters between the ages of eight and 18 participate in some form of non-school-based organized sports and millions more participate in high school-sponsored sports? The truth is that the scope of sexual abuse is not known because no studies have been conducted on this population.

John Bales, president ol the Coaching Association of Canada, believes that the sporting world may be particularly vulnerable to the problems of sexual abuse because it is an environment characterized by close relationships and trust. However, virtually the only data available today comes from newspaper reports and magazine stories that chronicle sexual abuse cases where the abusers typically are male coaches and the victims are females.
In the past five years, as numerous reports of sexual abuse of athletes by coaches have appeared in newspapers and magazines, two cases in particular have drawn national attention. The first, reported in Sports Illustrated in the spring of 1997, described how Rick Butler, the coach at the Sports Performance Volleyball club in West Chicago. Ill., allegedly abused at least three of his teenage volleyball players sexually. The abuse, according to the report, began in 1984, when one of the athletes was 15, and continued over a period of years. As is typical in such cases, the victim did not report the abuse until 10 years later.

The second sexual abuse case that continues to draw attention in the U.S. and Canada involves former Boston Bruin Sheldon Kennedy. Although the abuse began when he was 14 and playing hockey in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1984, it was not reported until 1997. Over a period of approximately five years, his coach, Graham James, sexually assaulted Kennedy more than 300 times. James received a 42-month jail sentence for his crimes.
A search for newspaper reports of coach sexual abuse in the U.S. and internationally covering the last two years shows the following headlines as examples: "Girls' Coach Sentenced to Jail for Sex Crimes- (Arizona Republic). a case where a male coach had sex with a student at a Hopi reservation school: "Sex Sentence Reduced for Ex-Anita [Iowa] Volleyball Coach" (Omia World-Herald): "Girls Suing Fort Bend School District over Alleged Sexual Abuse" (Houston Chronicle); and "Ex-Celtic Boys Allege Sex Abuse by Coach" (The Scotsman). On Jan. 31. 1999. a London Sunday Telegraph story accused the Women's Tennis Association of staying silent over sex abuse claims.The report was in reference to two French coaches being fired for having sex with junior girls.

Boston's major newspapers-the Herald and Globe-have headlined several cases of coach sexual abuse of athletes in Massachusetts. In January, 1999, a 30-year-old swimming coach was arrested and charged with forcible rape of a child, attempted rape of a child under 16, and indecent assault and battery on two members of his swim team. On March 9, 1999, the Boston Globe ran a headline. "Martial-Arts Teacher, 31, Accused of Raping Pupils." Two days later., another major story broke detailing the case of a 36-year-old husband and father who allegedly inappropriately fondled at least time boys over a period of three years while he was coach of a youth soccer team.

In examining sexual abuse cases in sport, it becomes clear that, in most instances, there is a pattern of behavior driven by characteristics of the coach, athlete, and sports interacting in unique ways. The coach is typically male, older, and physically bigger and stronger than the athlete. It is difficult to profile the predator coach by occupation, because he may have been a gifted athlete and might be a successful businessman, scoutmaster, trained as a teacher, or even a member of the clergy. He usually has some form of credibility in the sporting community for previous coaching success. and is often a coaching taskmaster demanding a great deal from his athletes-- physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The sexual predator coach works hard at establishing athlete and parental trust, and frequently is a "charmer," making it unthinkable to most people that he would engage in this behavior. He often promotes himself by making promises regarding the star potential of children he coaches. He carefully structures the coaching environment so that there are opportunities to be alone with specific athletes during practice and road games. The acts are not random, but well-planned and aimed directly at athletes who either will do almost anything to get to the top of their field or are from broken homes. Sexually abusive coaches also know that, because of the athlete's desire to get a scholarship and/or make the team, it is unlikely that the abuse will be reported.

In the case of male athletes in sports such as hockey (for example, Sheldon Kennedy). the coach knows the athlete probably will not report the case for fear of being labeled as a homosexual. William Houston, writing in Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, about the problems of youth hockey. claimed the sport has a "culture of silence."

The abused athlete on the other hand, is typically female, younger, smaller, and weaker, with a low level of awareness about appropriate behavior, low self-esteem, a weak relationship with parents, an intense devotion to the coach, and a desire for achievement in the sport.

Coach predators usually are careful to seek out sports environments that allow for physical handling in coaching and where privacy is available for practice and trips away, little parental or organizational monitoring occurs, and there are weak association codes of ethics.

In 1993, the National Child Protection Act (NCPA) was passed by Congress to protect children from sexual abuse. It had two major flaws, however. First, unless a state passed legislation implementing the Act, organizations were not permitted to request fingerprints of volunteers and employees for FBI background checks. Second, Congress did not mandate state legislation, so the law had no teeth.

On Oct. 9, 1998. the Volunteers for Children Act (an amendment to the NCPA) was signed into law by Pres. Clinton. Essentially, the amended law states that a -qualified entity- now has the ability to request national fingerprint-based checks of volunteers and employees. A qualified entity is any business organization-whether public. private, for-profit, nonprofit. or voluntary-that provides care, treatment, education, training. instruction, supervision, or recreation for children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities. With the amendment, if a volunteer or employee of an organization sexually molests a child in his or her care and if it can be shown the volunteer or employee had been previously convicted somewhere in the U.S. for a relevant crime, the organization may be held liable under the legal principle of negligent hiring. Many lawmakers and educators see the 1998 law as one that finally enables parents to turn their children safety over to leaders in youth sports.

While the law has the potential to identify readily the worst abusers of children, it has its limitations. First, few organizations are fully aware of the law. Second, there is a bureaucracy that needs to be overcome. For instance, sports organizations must first obtain permission from the employee/volunteer to do a serious background check and obtain fingerprints. The organization then contacts the state law enforcement identification bureau, which, in turn, contacts the FBI. The FBI reports back to the state law enforcement agency, which then reports back to the organization.

Although laborious and time-consuming, this law is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, more than laws are needed to control sexual abuse against children in sport. In discussing the Sheldon Kennedy case. Hall of Fame goalie, National Hockey League general manager, and lawyer Ken Dryden said: "We want to believe that regulation or law can control our relationships with strangers, even with family. But they can't. We have to depend on the basic goodness and decency of others, just as they have to depend on that in us. We can screen and monitor, but ultimately we have to trust. Trust must be earned, and in our fragmented world, it isn't easily earned. So when we impose regulation to replace trust. we do so running scared."

What can sports do?

Perhaps the largest contributor to the issue of coaches and sexual abuse is lack of awareness and education. The U.S. is the only country in the major sporting world that does not have a national coaching education pro gram for volunteer coaches. In fact. there are no Federal laws requiring coaching education at any level of competition-youth sports, interscholastic (high school), collegiate, Olympic, or professional.

Because of this, less than 10% of the 2,500,000 volunteer coaches have any type of coaching education. In school contexts, less than one-third of interscholastic coaches have received any type of coaching education. More than 50% of the interscholastic coaches do not hold a teaching certificate and have no affiliation with the school system. Forty-nine states allow non-faculty to coach school sports. The lack of fundamental education for the majority of coaches and a code of coaching conduct simply is inviting problems.

Steps currently are being taken to educate coaches and others in sport. The United States Olympic Committee (USOC), established by Federal law in 1978 as the lead organization for sports in the nation, has developed a longterm plan that includes establishing national standards for coaches in three major areas: ethics, safety, and knowledge/competencies. The organization's Code of Ethics was published in 1996, and it is mandatory for all USOC coaches to read the code and sign it.

Unlike governmental coach education programs in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, those in the U.S. have been developed by individuals, organizations, and universities. with little standardization. In addition to the USOC leadership, the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, also in 1996, developed national coaching education standards. The NASPE currently is in the process of developing an accreditation program.

Coaches would learn about six general principles that include competence, integrity, professional responsibility. respect for participants' dignity, concern for others' welfare, and responsible coaching. Moreover, they would be taught about sexual harassment; misuse of influence, exploitative relationships (they shall not engage in sexual/romantic relationships with athletes they coach); prohibition of sexual intimacies with current athletes: limiting sexual intimacies with former athletes for at least two years after termination of professional services, and coaching former sexual partners. They also would learn how to confront ethical issues and report ethical violations.

There are many people and groups that have a role to play in preventing child sexual abuse in sport. They include coaches' organizations. national sports goveming bodies, local sports organizations, universities, high schools, coaches, parents, and children themselves.

What is needed is a national coaching education program that deals with both career (professional) and community/volunteer coaches. All must belong to a coaching organization. Training must be complemented by a system of regulations, standards of membership. a comprehensive code of ethics, and a monitoring mechanism to ensure accountability.

Schools and community sports programs must insist that each of their coaches receives education including coaching ethics, They should do a thorough background check and conduct an extensive interview with the prospective coach. Organizations should have a written policy regarding procedures for reporting possible coach sexual abuse, hearings, and sanctions.

Parents have a responsibility, too. They must invite their offspring to talk about their sports experiences, get to know the child's coach, and inquire about his or her qualifications. Parents should attend games and practices and observe the nature of coach-child interaction without being intrusive. They should educate youngsters about appropriate and inappropriate coaching behavior.

Children need to be told that it is okay to say no to adults who engage in behavior they have learned is inappropriate. In this way, youngsters can begin to protect themselves and know where to go for help.

The problem of child sexual abuse in sport is a serious problem. There are at-risk youngsters playing sports and there are a number of sexual predators masquerading as coaches. Most coaches (volunteer and career) are competent and have high ethical standards, and society must be aware of the possibility that they can be wrongfully accused of sexual abuse. Their rights must be protected as well.

It is regrettable to think that a volunteer coach in youth soccer could not put his arms around an eight-year-old to comfort her when she twists her ankle or to hug a young athlete during celebration because of the fear of sexual abuse charges. Nevertheless, there are some rotten apples out there. Society has to get rid of them and prevent other rotten apples from becoming coaches of children.

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Former Blue Jays Outfielder Goes Public With Abuse
Feb. 19, 2000 2:22 AM

TORONTO (AP) Rob Butler, an outfielder who played for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series, has publicly disclosed that as a 5-year-old boy he was abused by his female baby sitter.

Now 29 and almost out of baseball, Butler said the abuse was the reason he could not cope with his early baseball success.

"I was left with a baby sitter, it was a girl, and she ... the way I have to look at it is she was experimenting and I just happened to be there for that," Butler said in a CBC-TV feature to air Sunday night. "I don't think she realized the consequences of what would happen to me. I don't think anybody really does when that happens."

What happened to Butler was a series of disastrous career moves.

Butler was later traded from the Blue Jays, a team he followed as a child in suburban Toronto, and began a seven-year minor league odyssey. He returned for an eight-game stint with the Blue Jays last year and then was released.

Butler has attracted no interest from any other club and is set to retire because of recurring back problems.

"He wanted to explain himself," said Ken Dodd, the show's senior producer. "He feels his career didn't go well and he made some mistakes and he wanted to explain why. He was tremendously influenced by the courage of Sheldon Kennedy showed in speaking of his abuse."

Kennedy, a former NHL player, went public in 1997 in saying he was abused by a junior league coach.

After soaring through the Blue Jays' minor league system, Butler was promoted to the majors in 1993. He hit .271 in 17 games and added a postseason pinch-hit as Toronto won the World Series.

But that offseason, Butler changed his mind about continuing his development by playing winter ball in Venezuela. The following season, he missed a rookie orientation session.

Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash, then assistant GM to Pat Gillick, said Friday that it quickly became apparent by Butler's poor play in his first full major league season that he was troubled by something.

"He had tremendous potential, but when he reached the major leagues, he froze up," Ash said. "We forwarded him to our employee assistance program, but under the terms of confidentiality, we were not informed of the nature of the problem."

Butler was traded to Philadelphia in 1995 for future considerations. He got only 89 at-bats with the Phillies before he was demoted.

Desperate for outfield help amidst a run of injuries last season, the Blue Jays brought him back. He had one hit in seven at-bats and was released.

The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2000
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast or redistributed without prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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CTV Drama The Sheldon Kennedy Story Saves English Canada From Baniff Rockie Shutout

Toronto (April 14, 2000) - "THE SHELDON KENNEDY STORY," CTV's critically acclaimed Signature Presentation that aired last October, has been nominated for a prestigious Banff Rockie Award - the only Canadian English-language drama to be nominated.

Competition was stiff. For the first time in the 21-year history of the Banff Television Festival, the number of entries topped one thousand, with submissions from more than 40 countries and territories. The results of pre-selection, including the 84 nominees for the Banff Rockie Awards, were announced Wednesday at a MIP-TV press reception in Cannes, France.

The Sheldon Kennedy Story was nominated in the "MADE-FOR-TV MOVIES" CATEGORY, which includes other nominees from Belgium, Germany, and the U.S., like HBO's A Lesson Before Dying. The Rockie is a highly coveted award that recognizes the achievements of producers and broadcasters from around the world. Canadian productions secured eight nominations in all.

The Sheldon Kennedy Story is an emotionally charged movie that tells the true and compelling story of former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy who found the courage to expose the abuse he suffered at the hands of Junior hockey coach, Graham James. Kennedy's revelation changed the Canadian hockey industry. At the same time, his brave admission touched the lives of many Canadians. The broadcast drew critical and audience-acclaim and earned a national average minute audience of 1.3M viewers (2+).

CTV's Bill Mustos, Vice President, Dramatic Programming says The Sheldon Kennedy Story was a story of courage that needed to be told. "The Sheldon Kennedy Story proves we can deal with really tough subject matter in a way that still appeals to mass audiences, garners critical acclaim and now, shines under an international spotlight."

The Sheldon Kennedy Story was the second drama as part of CTV's Signature Presentation Series, the Network's commitment to Canadian programming that looks at issues of crucial importance to Canadians. CTV is set to air its next Signature Presentation "DR. LUCILLE: THE LUCILLE TEASDALE STORY" on April 30/00.

Rockie Award winners will be announced at the Baniff Television Festival on June 12.

The film was produced by Suzette Couture and Pierre Sarrazin, principals of Sarrazin/Couture Productions, along with Bradshaw MacLeod & Associates, exclusively for CTV Television. The production was overseen by Carol Hay, Bill Mustos, Vice President Dramatic Programming, and Susanne Boyce, Senior Vice President, Programming.

For more information, contact:
Mike Cosentino,
CTV Director of Programming Communications,
416.332.5048, or

Anne-Marie La Pointe,
CTV Publicity Coordinator,

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Cormier Case: It's Alright to Question
Thursday, April 27, 2000
By CHRIS COCHRANE -- Halifax Chronicle-Herald

One of the fears in the Canadian minor sports community after the highly publicized Graham James sexual assault case was that coaches and other officials dealing with young athletes might come under unreasonable scrutiny.

The case opened our eyes to an ugly fact - that hockey, and sports in general, is an inviting environment for sexual predators. The power a coach wields is tremendous. In many ways, a coach has more control over an athlete than his or her parents do.

Since the James case, the relationship between coaches and other adult officials and young athletes is viewed differently.

The reality is that despite the thousands of well-intentioned adults working in Canadian sports, we're only fooling ourselves if we think there won't always be a few with less than honourable intentions.

Unfortunately for the coaches and officials who so willingly help young athletes, this heightened awareness puts many fine people under scrutiny. But if that's the price that must be paid to ensure a safe sports environment for young athletes, then hopefully they understand.

It's because of the James case and others like it that I get an uneasy feeling when I hear of 10-year-old hockey players with schedules so busy they spend more weekend time with their coaches than their parents.

Parents must be very trusting to accept assurances from an overworked coach or other team official that all will be fine when they send their young son or daughter away to sporting events that may require overnight stays.

Of course, there wouldn't be such concerns if parents were more involved and accompanied them. Some do. Many don't.

And it's not only the younger age groups we have to be concerned about. It's worrisome to hear news such as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League changing its rules to allow 16-year-old rookies to be traded. These players are usually already far from home and trying to adjust to a new city. Being traded to another new city will mean another huge adjustment and might leave them vulnerable to potential abuse from those in powerful positions.

Many sports are addressing these concerns. Protective measures have been introduced to screen coaches, to better educate coaches, to offer Big Brother-types to players and to ensure that athletes understand their rights and the type of conduct they don't have to tolerate.

A lot of progress has been made but such efforts lose steam over time.

The best coaches and sports officials know parents are only doing their job when they ask how their kids are faring in and away from competition. Probing questions about the treatment of a son or daughter away from home may cause some discomfort but have become an essential part of parenting an athlete.

The message was driven home again this week when Paul Cormier, a longtime fixture in Maritime junior hockey circles, pleaded guilty in a Moncton courtroom to eight sex-related charges against young males.

The offences, which occurred between 1972 and 1999, resulted in five counts of gross indecency, two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual interference.

The Crown attorney said Cormier, 54, could receive up to five years in prison when he is sentenced May 16. That sounds like a small price to pay for the damage he has caused.

According to the Crown, all but one victim was 14 or older.

Again, as in the James case, we'll never know how many other victims there may have been over the years. Hockey remains a macho game, so there are bound to be some players who just can't come forward.

Imagine the inner turmoil in a young player preyed upon by his coach.

The point brought home by these cases is that the major responsibility rests with parents to ensure their children have a positive experience in sports.

That entails telling them that not all adults are what they seem, asking uncomfortable but necessary questions of the players, coaches and team officials and taking the extra time and effort in any other way possible to ensure they're safe.

It's worth the effort.

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Victim Wants To Help Others
Fri May 12, 2000 12:20 PM
Steve Milton
The Spectator

Sheldon Kennedy's painful revelation of the sexual abuse inflicted upon him by his junior hockey coach has forced us to monitor kids' sport much more closely.

It should also force us to realize that there must still be young athletes out there who are trapped into feeling abused, helpless or worthless. Or all three.

Glenn Allan knows those feelings. That's why he is hoping his series, Amateur Athlete Awareness, will be broadcast by Hamilton's OnTV this fall. He intends the show to be a weekly reminder of both the beauty, and the potential beast, of amateur sport, walking a fine, maybe dicey, line between acclamation and revelation.

"We want to celebrate the good and shine a really bright light on the negative aspects: the politics, parents' behaviour, doping, the illegal aspects," says Allan, the show's host and executive producer. "You want to teach kids that there's nothing wrong with winning ... but at what cost? If you have self-respect and the respect of others, a work ethic, discipline and responsibility do you not think you're a double winner? Eventually, if you all have that the team as a whole will win."

Allan is making the rounds of advertisers with the series' pilot. That prototype includes the four general segments that will comprise each installment. The feature profile is on alpine skier Troy Ford-King, who represents Canada at the Special Olympics.

The historical segment takes a look at the old Hamilton Forum. The focus on high-calibre amateur athletes features Mac stars Steve Magda and Janet Cook.

And the fourth segment, in which Toronto Maple Leafs President Ken Dryden has expressed a strong interest, is an interview with Ellen Campbell, executive-director of Canadian Child Abuse Awareness.

An OnTV spokesman says the television station is considering the program, but has not made a decision on whether to carry it.

Allan says that within the series, he wants four segments on the subject of child abuse.

The most important points will be:

1) Yes, it happens;
2) No, you're not abnormal; and
3) There is help out there, and here's where to find it.

"The underlying problem with a large percentage of the people I meet in my work is that they have been sexually abused. So it's not just Sheldon Kennedy or Rob Butler who have gone through this."

It is also Glenn Allan.

Allan is now 36 years old, a Christian, the communications director for the sexual abuse advocacy centre Restoration House, and a frequent speaker at churches, schools and rehab centres. Next spring, he will marry his fiance Colleen Jephcott.

Yet, just over two years ago, he was locked inside a hotel room trying to kill himself. The inner demons that had bored away at him for years had taken over completely: through bouts of sudden rage, alcoholism and drug addiction, and now through suicide attempts.

In surviving that exorcising, cathartic, suicidal night, Allan came to recognize the primary source of the self-revulsion leading to his reckless behaviour.

Allan had been a victim -- he now defines it as 'conqueror' -- of sexual abuse. For eight years, starting at the age of seven, he was sexually abused by his hockey coach.

"Growing up, I had no self-esteem, no self-worth," he says. "In my addiction I had no self-esteem. I never thought in a million years, I'd get married or have such feelings for someone.

"There are still people out there that are harbouring this horrible secret, this terrible indignity."

While Amateur Athlete Awareness will mainly celebrate achievements and attitudes in amateur sport, it will also have one vigilant segment every week dealing with the dangers of drugs, alcohol, smoking, overbearing coaches, and a slew of other potential pitfalls.

"So if there is a coach or manager out there who is domineering, well, we'll be out there with a camera," Allan says, although admitting he'll have to be careful to avoid witch-hunts.

"By trying to help we don't want to create more problems."

There is a fund-raiser for the show's pilot and for Restoration House on Monday night (6:30 p.m. at Crabby Joe's Tap and Grill, 1705 Main St. W.).

Jerseys belonging to Curtis Joseph, Tie Domi and Ray Bourque will be auctioned off. Celebrities such as Chris Schultz, Brian McFarlane, Ric Nattress, Derek McAdoo, and representatives of the Bulldogs and Ticats will also be on hand.

Eventually, Allan hopes that big-time athletes will reverse roles, interviewing amateur athletes for the series.

"Everything we do in the show, we want to have a message for the kids," Allan says. "But we don't want to be naive.

"Through the TV segment, we can reach people. If someone wants help, I don't care if we have to fly to Vancouver to help them. The only way I can get anything out of this (his own) program of recovery is by giving it away. It's my duty and responsibility to share what I've been blessed with."

Contact Steve Milton by email at sports@hamiltonspectator.com

This article came from the Hamilton Spectator.

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Dley Gone as WHL Commissioner
Monday, June 5, 2000

CALGARY (CP) -- The Western Hockey League's board of governors announced Monday that commissioner Dev Dley has been fired.

But the reasons why were unclear.

"I can't give you a concrete, honest reason on that," said board chairman Bruce Hamilton. "There were many different areas of discussion that went on in our meetings.

"I think it's important we solve those ourselves. Because of the respect we had for Dev, we weren't going to get into a mudslinging contest at all with that."

Hamilton said governors made the Friday decision not to renew Dley's contract, which had an annual renewal date of June 25th. Hamilton added league officials want to take the WHL in a different direction, but again was short on details.

"I don't think we'll elaborate on that because we're still trying to define exactly what our job description and things like that are going to be for the new man coming in," he said.

Dley, who participated in the news conference announcing his departure, said he's not angry with the decision doesn't feel that he was fired.

"When you have a firing I think it is safe to say there's bitterness, either from one party or the other," he said. "I think you can probably reach your own conclusions in this case where there is no bitterness and there's certainly no hard feelings."

Hamilton, president and GM of the Kelowna Rockets, said the board's decision was tough for him because Dley is a close, personal friend.

But Hamilton said one of the board's concerns was a perceived lack of growth in attendance with many WHL franchises.

Dley, a Kamloops, B.C. lawyer, took over the job in January of 1996 and dealt with such explosive issues as the sexual abuse of Sheldon Kennedy by his coach, Graham James, while a player with the Swift Current Broncos.

Hamilton said no decision has been made on Dley's successor.

Dley wouldn't discuss the details surrounding his departure but is satisfied with the current stability of the league.

"The league's very healthy and the health of the league depends very much on all of the franchises," he said.

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Sheldon Kennedy: Portrait of an Ultimate Hero
June 12, 2000
Banff Television Festival 2000
by Mary MacDonald Savides

When Calgary Flames star Sheldon Kennedy shocked the nation by admitting that he endured years of sexual abuse from his junior hockey coach, ctv president and ceo Ivan Fecan found himself moved by Kennedy's courage. Believing that the hockey player's story was perfect for ctv's Signature Presentation Series, Fecan called Sarrazin-Couture Productions and set in motion the made-for-tv movie and now Rockie nominee, The Sheldon Kennedy Story.

Producer Pierre Sarrazin (The Canadians, La Florida) and writer Suzette Couture (Million Dollar Babies, Conspiracy of Silence, Love and Hate) were already familiar with the story when Fecan asked if they were interested in doing the tv movie. After meeting with Kennedy, Sarrazin says they became "totally caught up in the story and we committed to it."

"To do these stories well you have to really trust who's doing it," says Sarrazin. "We spent days talking with Sheldon and he was tremendously forthcoming with all sorts of details from his life, his relationship with his wife and what had happened to him with Graham James [the sexually abusive coach]." At this point, Sarrazin says, Couture realized that it was a love story of a woman saving a man from his painful past.

The creative team wanted to avoid scenes of graphic sexual abuse and put Kennedy's relationship with his wife at the forefront. "We discussed with Norma Bailey, the director (Bordertown Cafe, My Life as a Dog), that people would watch this love story that slowly grows darker and darker as Sheldon reveals what happened to him. I don't want to sound like a cliché, but it is an inspiring story and I think we succeeded in making it fresh. It wasn't just another horrible scene of sexual abuse and a young boy suffering - people can show it to their children."

A deal was struck with co-producer Doug MacLeod (North of 60, Bad Faith) of Bradshaw MacLeod and the decision was made to shoot the film in Calgary - Sheldon's hometown. Sarrazin confesses he was concerned about whether they could pull off the National Hockey League look, but the people of Calgary came out as extras and supported the whole production. "It was also great for local crews to work on a Canadian story, not just American movies being shot in Calgary. It meant something special to them to be involved in the project and they treated us very well."

~Average Canadian dad~

Sarrazin says that the casting was straightforward from the first auditions, with the two producers and director unanimously settling on Jonathan Scarfe (er, White Lies) as Kennedy, but the big surprise was Robert Wisden (Legends of the Fall, Da Vinci's Inquest). "I never thought in a million years that he would have been good as Graham James, but he was stunning in the audition, and Norma, Doug and I think he did a magnificent job. He approached it by not being dangerous - [being] the average Canadian dad - which is what would make a boy susceptible to this kind of attack."

Sarrazin is especially impressed with Noel Fisher who plays Kennedy as a child. "He was amazing. It was very difficult material for a young actor to handle. I think Norma Bailey did a terrific job with the actors. They are very well-cast, but she got wonderful performances out of them."

There were some financing glitches with the production - such as when Telefilm ran out of money. Sarrazin explains: "It was one of those classic Canadian situations where there wasn't enough money. They had helped us to develop the story in terms of script development, but they had no production funding for us. So ctv was forced to come up with a large amount of money to fund it. ctv put themselves out, but this was a story that Ivan really, really wanted and they were willing to pay for it."

Couture's recent miniseries, Jesus, was a huge ratings success in the u.s. and also received critical recognition. She is currently "basking" in the fact that it is the only show so far to beat Regis [Who Wants To Be a Millionaire] while the company prepares to do another movie, Wild Geese, also in Alberta, and with Doug MacLeod. "Doug and I had a great experience working together on The Sheldon Kennedy Story. Our companies are about the same size, so the idea is that when we have Western projects we will be able to shoot them where they belong, which is a tremendous advantage."

When The Sheldon Kennedy Story aired last October, it drew 1.3 million viewers. More than 300 Canadians contacted the Red Cross and Kids Help Phone support lines promoted on-air by Kennedy after the broadcast. Reflecting on the experience, Sarrazin says, "It is an amazing story. Hockey players are our gladiators, the most manly of men that we have in our society. I remember watching the story before we did the movie and some classic no-teeth, broken-nose hockey player saying, 'I'll play with you any day Shelley.' That was the greatest acceptance. He brought the issue of sexual abuse in sports to the forefront of the Canadian psyche...he's the ultimate hero in our books."

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The Sheldon Game
July, 2000
By David Baines

Sheldon Kennedy's cross-Canada skate has become the model for how not to run a charity. Why the dream fell so far short of its lofty goal.

It was an emotional scene that would be repeated many times during the next two-and-a-half years. Retired NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who had recently made headlines with the revelation that his former junior hockey coach had sexually abused him, broke down in tears at a Calgary news conference on February 10, 1997. In a gesture whose apparent selflessness would remind many Canadians of Rick Hansen and the late Terry Fox, Kennedy unveiled his dream plans for a mountain ranch for abused children, which he planned to finance by a cross-country skate on roller blades.

"One thing I did when I was going through tough times was always go out to the mountains," Kennedy told reporters. "I always found a lot of peace out there. I think, being so far away from things, that it is the place to be. You can do a lot of soul-searching out there. It's something I always used to dream of-a ranch in the mountains." Wanting to help fellow victims, prevent future occurrences of abuse and perhaps launch a second career, Kennedy formed the Sheldon Kennedy Foundation, through which he announced he would raise $15 million to build and operate the ranch. It would be called Anaphe, after the Greek goddess who protected children, and Kennedy would stay on as a consultant after it was completed. At Kennedy's side was Vancouver entrepreneur Steven Funk, who made a fortune promoting investor-immigrant funds, lives in a Tara-like mansion in the British Properties and has compared his investment methods to those of Warren Buffett. Funk had assumed the role of dream-maker, donating a parcel of land near Radium, B.C., for the would-be ranch. "I have a chance to give something back [and] hopefully create some momentum for his dream to create a treatment centre for sexually abused kids," Funk said.

Although it sounded like Funk was personally making the donation, the property was actually owned by Canadian Maple Leaf Financial Corp., a Toronto Stock Exchange-listed company which he headed. And while the media reported that the land had been donated, it hadn't. In fact, it couldn't be. The piece of land that Funk had promised was part of a larger tract that was frozen in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The Funk land donation was just one of several things about Sheldon Kennedy's cross-country skate that wasn't what it first appeared to be. It is also one of the many reasons the odyssey-however well-intentioned-was doomed to failure before Kennedy strapped on his roller blades.

As a teenager in the tiny manitoba town of Elkhorn, Sheldon Kennedy showed much promise as a hockey player. He helped Canada win the 1998 world junior hockey championship, and the following year he led the Swift Current Broncos to the Memorial Cup. Then he began an NHL career that took him to Detroit, Calgary and finally Boston. In 1997, the Bruins released him, and Kennedy's life took a dramatic turn.

In January of that year, Kennedy shocked the hockey world by revealing that over a six-year period-from the time he was 14 to when he was 19-his Broncos coach, Graham James, had sexually abused him more than 300 times (an unidentified teammate was also molested). James would later be convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Besides making instant headlines, the incident caught the attention of minor hockey officials, who implemented a series of policies and procedures-including mandatory criminal record checks for new coaches-designed to weed out potential sexual predators. While sympathetic to Kennedy, some in the minor hockey community saw these measures as a case of overkill. The incidence of reported sexual abuse on hockey teams has been minimal. That could be because victims like Kennedy are reluctant to come forward, but it could also be argued that the high level of parental involvement in minor hockey makes it more difficult for molesters to operate. In any event, Kennedy's disclosure attracted so much attention because it was anomalous, not because it was representative.

Perhaps recognizing this, Kennedy expanded the theme of his skate. His prescription was to build a ranch that would help victims of all abuse-even though child abuse occurs in so many different ways, with so many different results, that there would be little commonality among the campers. However illogical the premise, the public and the media loved the story and were willing to accept it without question.

Kennedy, meanwhile, was receiving far more publicity as an abuse victim than he ever had as a hockey player. In 1997-even before the skate began-the Canadian Press named him its newsmaker of the year.

Steven funk was well aware of Sheldon Kennedy's media draw. On June 6, 1997, the Vancouver businessman appeared before the Regional District of East Kootenay to support his company's application to subdivide the Radium property. Funk's intention was not just to hive off a piece for the Sheldon Kennedy ranch, but to create four separate parcels, one of which would be donated to Kennedy's foundation.

Jim Ogilvy, chair of the regional district, said during a later interview that no reason was given for the request to create four different lots, "but the obvious reason is that they [Funk's company] might want to sell them."

Leaving nothing to chance, Funk brought along Kennedy and his own camera crew. "It was a big production," remembered Ogilvy. "It was very, very, very high-pressure stuff." Ogilvy said that the board members approved the application "because we wanted to see the ranch for abused children go forward." He said that, had no other reason been given, there "would likely have been some difficulty."

At the end of the meeting, Funk-with his camera crew recording the scene-produced an oversized replica title to the property and presented it to Kennedy. The Edmonton Journal duly reported that Kennedy had handed over the deed to the foundation. There was no mention that it was a reproduction, or that actual title could not be transferred until certain requirements were met, including the upgrade of an access road.

That posed a financial problem for Funk. Until the land was transferred, his company could not obtain a tax receipt for its charitable donation. Unwilling to wait, Funk devised a scheme that would enable him to realize the tax benefit without actually transferring the land.

First he obtained a valuation of $567,000 for the property; then he made an equivalent cash donation to the United Way. In turn, the United Way donated the money to the Sheldon Kennedy Foundation, which made a $567,000 "deposit" on the land to Funk's company. In this way, the money went in a circle, but now the company could claim a tax deduction, even though the land had not actually been transferred. It was one in a series of contributions that Canadian taxpayers, through tax deductions allowed by Revenue Canada and direct contributions from provincial governments, would make to the Sheldon Kennedy Foundation.

This article came from Vancouver Magazine.

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Gemini Salute- Canadian TV's Best Honoured Tonight
Monday, October 30, 2000
By BILL BRIOUX -- Toronto Sun

What would it take to turn Canadians on to the Gemini Awards?

Over the past 15 years, the annual black-tie salute to the Canadian television industry has never really caught on with Canadian audiences. Last year, just 632,000 of us tuned in, a dismal tally for a Sunday night showcase.

In comparison, nearly five times as many Canadians tuned in for this year's U.S. TV industry salute, the Emmy Awards.

Now if only we could talk Carla Collins into wearing Geena Davis' see-through body stocking.

Shifting tonight's 15th Annual Gemini Awards Gala to a Monday night may help. It's on CBC at 8 p.m.

That gets the show away from the big Sunday night U.S. blockbusters, although it still has to contend with the likes of Ally McBeal and Everybody Loves Raymond.

Which is the Gemini dilemma in a nutshell. Just as CFL football suffers in comparison to the multi-million dollar NFL, so do the Geminis pale next to the Emmys.

Canada's top-rated TV shows are U.S. imports ER, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Friends and Frasier. They pull in twice the viewers as our top home- grown shows, such as Royal Canadian Air Farce, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Wind At My Back or Cold Squad.

Remember all the fuss when Pamela Wallin stood in for Regis Philbin on Millionaire? As the old song goes, how you gonna keep them down on the farm, after they've seen Paris?

Not helping the second-rate stink on this show is the large number of cancelled fare up for awards. Will anyone at home besides immediate family members be cheering on Peter Benchley's Amazon, Double Exposure, Traders, Power Play, The City or Nothing Too Good For A Cowboy, all multiple Gemini nominees that are out of production?

There are some other head scratchers. How does Brigitte Gall not only get nominated but win for Best Performance or Host in a Variety Program or Series for her one-woman minstrel show Joan Of Montreal when Open Mike host Mike Bullard doesn't even get nominated? Zut alors!

And while we're at it, read that category again. Shouldn't it be split into at least two different awards?

Having said all that, the Geminis do provide a welcome showcase for many deserving shows and individuals. Robert Wisden earned his Supporting Actor win yesterday as the heinous and unsympathetic hockey coach in The Sheldon Kennedy Story. Great children's shows such as Mentors, Scoop & Doozie and Angela Anaconda, along with Incredible Story Studio, Popular Mechanics For Kids and long-running Street Cents would hold their own against the best the world has to offer.

Let's hope that DaVinci's Inquest, arguably the best drama ever out of Canada, takes the top prize in its category tonight. DaVinci's Nicholas Campbell deserves to win as Best Actor, but he'll have to beat two other cast mates, Donnelly Rhodes and Ian Tracey, along with Cowboy's Ted Atherton and Power Play's Michael Riley.

On the Best Dramatic Actress side, Cold Squad's Julie Stewart faces off against five actresses from cancelled shows: Sarah Chalke (Cowboy), Caroline Neron (Cover Me), Torri Higginson (The City), Sonja Smits (Traders) and Kari Matchett (Power Play).

Question: With so many scratched shows leaving nothing to promote, do we need six nominees in some of these categories?

Rising above it all will be host Steve Smith, who knows a thing or two about turning duct tape into gold.

Tonight's presenters include Bullard, Campbell, Smits, Stewart, Tracey and Wallin, along with Brent Carver, Carla Collins, Wendy Crewson, Cynthia Dale, Paul Gross, Wendy Mesley and Brian Williams. Body stockings optional.

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