I wrote the above statement back
in early January of 2001 before this news broke in April of 2001.
The 2001 archives are below.
Many thanks to Meg for the heads-up about this year's archives.
Predator Returns as Coach
CALGARY -- The man who shook Canadian hockey to its core by committing more than 350 sexual acts on two teenaged players is back in the game and once again coaching.
Graham James, sentenced in 1997 to 31/2 years in prison for abusing Sheldon Kennedy and another unnamed junior player, has been coaching in Spain for several months.
He was the assistant coach for the Spanish national team that recently placed second at the World C hockey championship in Majadahonda, Spain. The youngest player on the Spanish team just turned 19.
Mr. James, 49, also works as an instructor for coaches in the Spanish hockey system, where sources say he has no contact with players under the age of 18.
Efforts to contact Mr. James yesterday were unsuccessful.
His conviction shocked the country and prompted a Canadian Hockey League review of the sport. The review was designed to protect players from abusive adults and to screen coaches and volunteers involved in minor hockey, which is where Mr. James got his start as a coach.
Mr. Kennedy, a junior-hockey star whose National Hockey League career was hindered by personal problems that he said resulted from the abuse he suffered, was stunned to hear that Mr. James had resurfaced as a coach.
He said from Calgary that he'd like to know how a convicted sexual predator could be allowed to leave Canada and coach in another country.
"I know guys with minor felonies on the substance side of things and they have a problem getting into the U.S.," Mr. Kennedy said.
"I don't have a clue how this could happen, but obviously it's a wake-up call for us as a society. Whether he's coaching kids or not, he's in a position of authority. He's with a national team and you can't tell me there aren't younger kids in the program.
"That's unbelievable. It blows
"I did call the IIHF and told them I'd heard -- nothing for sure -- that Graham James was either coaching in Portugal or Spain. They told me that they were inquiring. They said they'd get calls out to Portugal and Spain," said Mr. Nicholson. "But nothing came back to me."
A source with the IIHF said the governing body knew "sometime in February" that Spain was interested in hiring Mr. James but admitted nothing more was said and no follow-ups were made.
Mr. James is banned for life from coaching in Canada. News that he was coaching again did not sit well with Murray Costello, an IIHF council member who planned to raise the issue of Mr. James's hiring at the next IIHF congress.
"I will inquire and when they ask me why I'm inquiring I will feel obliged to tell them. I would feel more guilty not telling them," Mr. Costello said.
A spokesman for the National Parole Board said Mr. James was granted day parole in October, 1998, and that he completed his sentence last July. Having done so, Mr. James was then eligible to leave the country.
Mr. James was coach and general manager of the Western Hockey League's Swift Current Broncos when he sexually abused Mr. Kennedy and the other player. Mr. Kennedy and the unidentified player filed criminal charges against Mr. James, who pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault between 1984 and 1994.
Mr. Kennedy went public with his story in 1997. That same year he played his final NHL game as a member of the Boston Bruins.
He attended Mr. James's parole hearing in Winnipeg and was not impressed by what he heard.
"He had no acceptance of what he'd done. I was waiting for the day that he'd get caught again. Was I waiting for the day he'd be back in hockey as a coach? No, I didn't prepare myself for that," Mr. Kennedy said.
Mr. James's other victim is still waiting for a development in his legal action against the Broncos, the WHL, CHA and 16 other defendants. The player and his parents have filed separate suits seeking an undisclosed amount of money in damages as well as a public accountability. The suit is in pretrial stage with no trail date set.
Mr. James was named head scout of the WHL's Winnipeg Warriors in 1984 and became head coach and general manager when the team relocated to Moose Jaw later that year. The Broncos hired Mr. James in 1986 and his eight seasons in Swift Current were filled with incredible tragedies (the 1986 bus crash that killed four players) and triumphs (the 1989 Memorial Cup championship).
After Mr. James left Swift Current for Calgary, where he was named coach and GM of the Hitmen, a police investigation began into allegations of sexual misconduct. According to several Swift Current players, Mr. James paid players to allow him to videotape them having sex with women. There were also allegations that players were denied counselling after the 1986 bus crash because Mr. James's secret would have been discovered.
In September of 1996, Calgary police confirmed they were looking into Mr. James's past. Five months later, Mr. James stood in a Calgary courtroom and read from a prepared statement. He apologized for his actions, adding, "I offer no excuses . . . The fault is mine alone."
CALGARY, Alberta- Graham James, the former junior hockey coach who served almost three years in prison for sexually abusing two former players, is working as an assistant coach for the Spanish national team.
James, banned for life from coaching in Canada, help direct the Spanish team that recently finished second in the World C championship in Majadahonda, Spain.
Dave Fitzpatrick, spokesman for the International Ice Hockey Federation, said the governing body cannot ban anyone from taking a job in another country.
"If someone moves for employment or moves for some other reason, is he guilty for the rest of his life in that offense? I'm not saying yes, I'm not saying no," Fitzpatrick said. "If the national association had the information, it's up to them to deal with it in the way that they can because of their local law."
James was sentenced in January 1997 for the sexual abuse of former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy and another player during his eight seasons with the Swift Current Broncos.
Kennedy said he was assaulted more than 300 times by James while playing for the Broncos in the Western Hockey League.
James was convicted on another set of charges in February 1998 for indecently assaulting a 14-year-old Winnipeg boy in 1971.
Graham James, sentenced in 1997 to 3 years in prison for abusing Sheldon Kennedy and another unnamed junior player, has been coaching in Spain for several months.
He was the assistant coach for the Spanish national team that recently placed second at the World C hockey championship in Majadahonda, Spain. The youngest player on the Spanish team just turned 19.
James is banned for life from coaching in Canada.
James, 49, also works as an instructor for coaches in the Spanish hockey system, where sources told the Globe and Mail he has no contact with players under the age of 18. James could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
His conviction shocked the country and prompted a Canadian Hockey League review of the sport. The review was designed to protect players from abusive adults and to screen coaches and volunteers involved in minor hockey, which is where James got his start as a coach.
Kennedy, a junior-hockey star whose National Hockey League career was hindered by personal problems that he said resulted from the abuse he suffered, was stunned to hear that James had resurfaced as a coach.
He said from Calgary that he'd like to know how a convicted sexual predator could be allowed to leave Canada and coach in another country.
"I know guys with minor felonies on the substance side of things and they have a problem getting into the U.S.," Kennedy said. "I don't have a clue how this could happen, but obviously it's a wake-up call for us as a society.
"Whether he's coaching kids or not, he's in a position of authority. He's with a national team and you can't tell me there aren't younger kids in the program.
"That's unbelievable. It blows my mind."
Canadian Hockey Association president Bob Nicholson said he was told on Jan. 12 that James was coaching overseas and that he called the International Ice Hockey Federation office in Switzerland to learn if that was true.
"I did call the IIHF and told them I`d heard _ nothing for sure _ that Graham James was either coaching in Portugal or Spain. They told me that they were inquiring. They said they'd get calls out to Portugal and Spain," said Nicholson. "But nothing came back to me."
A source with the IIHF said the governing body knew "sometime in February" that Spain was interested in hiring James but admitted nothing more was said and no follow-ups were made.
News that he was coaching again did not sit well with Murray Costello, an IIHF council member who planned to raise the issue of James's hiring at the next IIHF congress.
"I will inquire and when they ask me why I'm inquiring I will feel obliged to tell them. I would feel more guilty not telling them," Costello said.
A spokesman for the National Parole Board said James was granted day parole in October 1998, and that he completed his sentence last July. Having done so, James was then eligible to leave the country for personal or business matters.
James was coach and general manager of the Western Hockey League's Swift Current Broncos when he sexually abused Kennedy and the other player.
Kennedy and the unidentified player filed criminal charges against James, who pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault between 1984 and 1994.
Kennedy went public with his story in 1997 and was named Canada's top newsmaker by The Canadian Press. That same year he played his final NHL game as a member of the Boston Bruins.
He attended James's parole hearing in Winnipeg and was not impressed by what he heard. Kennedy said he wasn't prepared to hear that James was back in hockey.
James's other victim is still waiting for a development in his legal action against the Broncos, the WHL, CHA and 16 other defendants. The player and his parents have filed separate suits seeking an undisclosed amount of money in damages as well as public accountability. The suit is in pretrial stage with no trail date set.
CALGARY -- Stunned and admittedly angry, Sheldon Kennedy has promised to do whatever he can to ensure his abuser, Graham James, is out of hockey. For now, that means working with the Canadian Hockey Association and heightening the public's awareness of what happened to him and could happen to others.
Kennedy was officially added to the CHA's Speak Out Program yesterday, and the former Swift Current Bronco, who was sexually abused by James, had plenty to say after learning James is coaching in Spain.
Speaking to reporters in a telephone conference call, Kennedy said it was "definitely bothersome" hearing that James had been allowed to coach a club team near Madrid as well as the Spanish national team, whose youngest player just turned 19.
"I'm not going to sit back and say it's okay, he's not coaching in Canada," Kennedy said. "That's not my approach at all. We'll see what happens in the next few weeks. I'll definitely not let it go if he's involved with kids. . . . I'll do whatever I can to make sure he's out of the game."
Kennedy learned on Wednesday that James had been coaching in Spain for the past several months. Initially, the former National Hockey League player, who finished his career with the Boston Bruins, was taken aback by the news. Yesterday, he said, brought a new wave of emotions.
"The whole day brings a little bit of anger out," he said. "I'm 31. I'm positive I could still be playing the game. There were a lot of factors involved in that [not happening] and a lot of it was from what Graham did to me. He's still doing what he wanted to do. He's coaching a national team."
Asked whether James deserved a second chance, an argument used by both Spanish and International Ice Hockey Federation officials, Kennedy replied: "I think he does. . . . But you need to prove yourself in other walks of life that you've changed. If you have a problem drinking, you don't go hang out in a bar."
Kennedy's decision to join the CHA and continue its crusade against player abuse should bring new light to a problem some were beginning to ignore. Robin Mann, the president of the Calgary Minor Hockey Association, said that immediately after James's conviction, people were keen on screening and asking tough questions. In the past few years, the eagerness has waned.
"The unfortunate thing is with time comes complacency," Mann said. "If you go back over what was done in Calgary the year after Graham James, there was a lot of heightened awareness and looking into the background of coaches. We haven't had an issue pop in our back yard, or in anyone else's back yard close to us, so people are not as diligent as they were a year ago or two years ago. We've talked with our volunteers and told them to be as diligent as they can, especially with new people coming in."
Kennedy said he is pleased with what Canadian hockey has done to monitor itself and that he hopes the IIHF and Spanish officials will do more regarding James.
"I think we've done a lot," Kennedy said. "I look at Canadian Hockey and they've done a lot. Now the pressure is on the IIHF and the Spanish federation and what they can do. I was scared of the game of hockey. I'm very grateful to have an opportunity to get back and to further my mission -- to make Canada the safest place for kids."
The president of the International Ice Hockey Federation says he knew of Graham James's conviction for sexually abusing two teenage boys, but insisted there was nothing the IIHF could do to prevent James from coaching a men's team in Spain.
Rene Fasel said yesterday that the IIHF and Spanish hockey officials knew that James, 49, had served 31/2 years in a Canadian jail for sexual offences against Sheldon Kennedy and another player. But when asked why James was allowed to coach in Majadahonda near Madrid, Fasel said there was no IIHF policy in place to block James's employment.
"It's very -- how do you say? -- it's not easy to handle it," Fasel said. "I have four kids of my own. I know what happened. We got a letter from the Canadian Hockey Association and we sent a letter to the Spanish people [in February, advising them of James's past]. We did everything we could do, and the Spanish people knew. What can we do more? There's no legal way to stop him from coaching a man's team."
James completed his sentence nine months ago and sent out applications last summer looking for work as a coach. According to sources, James had a choice of options and settled on Spain because of the weather.
Joaquin Tamames, the Majadahonda team owner and a developer who has built hockey rinks throughout the region, hired James, who also served as an assistant coach with the Spanish national team.
Canadian hockey officials believe that should never have happened because James received a life suspension soon after his conviction on Jan. 2. 1997.
In fact, Murray Costello, Canada's member on the IIHF council, will raise the issue of James's suspension at an IIHF congress set for May 9 at the world hockey championship tournament in Germany. Costello was upset on Wednesday when told that James had resurfaced as a coach, even if it was with a senior team.
"It's not automatic [that suspensions are upheld by the IIHF]," Costello said. "We've had discussions about suspensions like this. I have been on record saying we should honour suspensions from different federations, but that is not the case yet.
"I'm going to bring it to the attention of the council. This is still a big topic of discussion and controversy in Canada, and I want to make sure the IIHF knows our concerns."
Costello added that the IIHF "doesn't have a policy set up for something like this because it's never happened before, never been a concern." To establish a policy, the IIHF membership would have to direct its medical and legal committees to form guidelines that all countries could agree on, complete with screening procedures for coaches and officials.
In the wake of James's conviction, the Canadian Hockey League commissioned Toronto lawyer Gordon Kirke to write Players' First, an examination of how players and organizations could be better protected against sexual predators and various types of abuse.
Kirke began his research by consulting with Kennedy, who was repeatedly abused by James while playing for the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League and whose National Hockey League career suffered as a result.
Kennedy went public with his story in 1997 and also raised money for abused children with a cross-country inline skate. Players' First has been used in other countries, particularly the United States, where elements of the report have been adapted to fit sports other than hockey. The IIHF, however, has been reluctant to admit there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
"People tend to want to think it's not their problem," Kirke said. "But it's not just a Canadian problem and it's not just a hockey problem. It's universal and people need to understand that."
"Europe hasn't lived with this type of situation," CHA president Bob Nicholson said. "If they have, it's not as big a concern as it is here. The program we've developed, other countries are adapting it to their needs. We've taken it to the IIHF. They haven't grasped it and taken it to other countries.
"I've talked to Murray and [having James's suspension upheld by the IIHF] is definitely the direction he's taking it," Nicholson added. "I asked him, 'Can you get it done?' He said, 'I don't know, but I feel obliged to do that.' "
Fasel's final comment on the IIHF's decision not to prevent James from coaching in Spain was that James had served his time in prison and that he made no effort to hide his wrongdoing.
"It's very difficult, a very sensitive situation," Fasel said. "If something happens, it would be bad. But everyone deserves a second chance."
A contact with Spanish hockey was unsuccessful yesterday in having James return telephone calls from The Globe and Mail. Rusty James said he was aware his brother was coaching overseas but had not spoken to him in years.
"It's a tough issue, one that never goes away," said James, who years ago spoke to Kennedy's wife, Jana, and conveyed his family's regret for what had taken place. "I talked to her for quite a while. I never heard back from him, but indirectly I did speak to him."
Report on James Met With Anger
"I'm telling you Graham is a smart man and he's manipulative," said Kennedy, who recently joined the Canadian Hockey Association to help promote an abuse prevention program that was developed in the wake of the James scandal. James is banned from coaching for life in Canada.
CHA To Issue Second Warning
Canadian Press / Former Swift
Current Bronco Mark McFarlane, now with the UHL's Quad City Mallards,
hopes James doesn't re-offend.
James has been discovered coaching players as young as nine years old at the Majadahonda club near Madrid and also serving as an assistant coach with the Spanish national team that recently placed second at the world C-pool hockey championship in its home arena. The youngest player on the Spanish team recently turned 19.
"This is a concern to us," said CHA president Bob Nicholson of Calgary, via a Canada-wide conference call Thursday. "We also had to look at it from the legal side. We couldn't do more than give the information to the IIHF.
"We will again take it to the IIHF (at the world championship, which starts Saturday in Germany) and tell them we have serious concerns that he is coaching. But our legal counsel is telling us we can't take it any further than that."
In 1997, James was sent to prison for three-and-a-half years and supposedly banned for life from any involvement in organized hockey after being found guilty of sexual abuse.
The story in Spain is that James has never tried to cover his history and has given interviews on the matter, clearing the air.
"We have no knowledge of that," said Nicholson, who added the Spanish Winter Sport Federation, which oversees the Spanish national team, released a one-paragraph statement saying it was looking at the matter.
James was convicted in 1997 after one of his former players, Sheldon Kennedy, and another unidentified player, apprised legal authorities about abuse between 1984 and 1990. Both were members of the Swift Current Broncos at the time and James was the team's coach.
James' prison sentence expired July 1, 2000, although he was granted day parole earlier, in 1998.
Dave Fitzpatrick, the IIHF's assistant general secretary and sports director, said the body cannot ban anyone from taking a job in another country.
"If someone moves for employment or moves for some other reason, is he guilty for the rest of his life in that offence? I'm not saying yes, I'm not saying no,'' said Fitzpatrick.
"If the national association (in this case, Spain) had the information, it's up to them to deal with it in the way that they can because of their local law."
Kennedy, 31, suggested Thursday that even if young players on the Spanish team are aware of James' past crimes, that doesn't mean they will be protected.
"I'm telling you Graham is a smart man and he's manipulative," said the former Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames forward, who recently joined the CHA to help promote an abuse prevention program that was developed in the wake of the James scandal.
"I was at his parole hearing and he really didn't show any remorse. That, to me, was bothersome.
"This whole thing has caught me off guard. From what I understand, he's in a similar position to that at Swift Current.
"This brings out a lot of anger because he's still doing what he loves to do. He's right in the same position he has always be in.
"I think Graham James has to prove in other walks of life that he has changed. If a guy wants to quit drinking, you don't hang out in a bar.
"I'm definitely not going to sit back and say it's OK that he's over coaching in Spain as long as he's not here in Canada -- that's definitely not my approach."
James was coaching the Calgary Hitmen when the charges were first laid, dragging the Calgary team into the scandal.
Former Hitmen vice-president Chuck Matson of Airdrie was shocked Thursday to learn of James' return to the game, albeit an ocean away from Canada.
"The fact the CHA suspended him was the sensible thing to do, the obvious thing to do," said Matson. "I don't know how to respond now. I don't mean any disrespect to the CHA, but the suspension didn't heal any wounds, they were much greater and deeper than simply wondering if he would coach again. I guess it didn't cross my mind he would ever consider coaching again."
The CHA has since implemented a screening process for prospective coaches of minor-aged players.
Western Hockey League commissioner Ron Robison e-mailed each of the 19 clubs in his league Thursday, refreshing them on the league's policy.
"Every employee in our league must pass a security check with the RCMP and with police authorities in the U.S.," said Robison. "We've taken steps to keep previous offenders from entering our league."
Ben Wiebe, president of the WHL Broncos, said he was stunned to learn Spanish officials had hired James to work with young people.
"If they're in hockey circles, there would be no way they would not know about Graham's past," Wiebe said from Maple Creek, Sask.
"To say other federations should be doing the same thing we do would be unfair, but this example on its own gives credence to the fact that some of them should be taking a look at (how) they hire coaches or volunteers," Glen McCurdie, director of insurance for the CHA, said from Ottawa.
McCurdie said he's not aware of any rule in international hockey that stops anyone convicted of a sexual offence from coaching.
"I'm no expert on Spanish law, but certainly in Canada if we received information like that and refused to act on it, we'd have some liability," he said.
A woman who works with male victims of sexual abuse says she's shocked James would be allowed to move into another country and work with young people.
"I can't imagine that the parents have been advised -- you have to think they don't know," said Ellen Campbell, who founded the Centre for Abuse Awareness in Toronto.
"What responsible parent would let their child be coached by a pedophile?"
Mark McFarlane, who played for James from 1988 to 1991, also was surprised to learn of the move.
"Everyone deserves a second chance I guess, but that's a tough call," said McFarlane, who currently plays for the United Hockey League's Quad City Mallards in Moline, Ill.
"Obviously, someone gave him a chance. He had to go to Spain to get it. I hope he's taking care of himself, is better now and doesn't do that again."
James's other victim is still waiting for a development in his legal action against the Broncos, the WHL, CHA and 16 other defendants. The player and his parents have filed separate suits seeking an undisclosed amount of money in damages as well as public accountability. The suit is in pretrial stage. No trial date has been set.
The fact that the history of former Swift Current Broncos coach Graham James is well-known to hockey officials in Spain should reduce the chance that the convicted sexual abuser will strike again, according to a leading Canadian sports ethicist.
Dr. John Butcher, a consultant to the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, said it's much harder for sexual predators to commit offences when their pasts are known.
"I think it's important that his background is public," Butcher said. "It seems that if we are open about these things it's so much harder to get away with anything because everybody is forewarned.
"Would he still get his jollies by looking at young boys? Maybe. But people will be watching everything he does and I wouldn't be horrified by the risks, personally."
James was convicted in 1997 of sexually abusing two former players, one of whom is former National Hockey League forward Sheldon Kennedy.
Along with the 31/2-year sentence he received in January of 1997, James was banned from coaching for life by the Canadian Hockey Association.
Although there were allegations that James was protected by those who knew he was sexually abusing his players, the truth never became public until Kennedy, then a Boston Bruin, stepped forward.
"Because his past is well-known, people are able to make their own risk assessments and that's about as safe as it can get," Butcher said.
While hockey officials in Canada are horrified that James is coaching again, the CHA has no jurisdiction over Spanish hockey and James is not violating the terms of his release by being around young boys.
Along with coaching players of all ages with the Majadahonda Hockey Club in Spain, James is also an assistant for the Spanish national team that recently placed second at the world C hockey championship.
The Spanish team was able to hire James because the International Ice Hockey Federation has no policy requiring its members to honour bans of other countries. The IIHF has studied CHA policies on abuse and harassment for two years, but has yet to make a decision on adopting them.
"We have presented it to them and it's still on their agenda," CHA president Bob Nicholson said. "It will be very interesting when we meet in Germany to see if they take it to the other countries.
"We took it to them two years ago and made presentations to them so it's not as if they don't have it."
Spanish officials have gone on record as saying they believe James has changed his ways and that the coach deserves another chance.
"I'm really concerned about that comment," Nicholson said. "I thought Sheldon Kennedy nailed it when he said everyone does deserve a second chance but I don't know if they deserve a second chance coaching kids in hockey. Their second chance should be doing something else.
"With predators, there seems to be a tendency for them to go back into that mode."
And so it goes, another pick at the Graham James scab: Front-page newspaper reports that he's back in hockey and coaching in Spain; follow-ups that he's coaching not just men, but teenage boys; flashbacks and replays, a media whirlwind that had taken years to die down suddenly revived in gusts of non-stop coverage.
And you know what? This is good. This is as it should be. Just the mention of James's name should be enough to make the hairs on the back of our necks stand up. We need to be reawakened to James's atrocities, how he abused his position of trust to sexually abuse teenage players.
The man was a wolf in the fold; a predator allowed to stalk his prey because many refused to believe it could happen. Even now, the people who hired and work with James in Majadahonda, a suburb of Madrid, are convinced he is both recovered and repentant.
They see nothing wrong with his coaching boys, since he has acknowledged his criminal record. They believe he has changed for the better because he lives alone and doesn't shower with the players or stand around the locker room so he can watch young boys undress.
Well, guess what? He never did those things in Swift Current, Sask., either. James was too smart to be so obvious. Publicly, he would do and say all the right things. Once, he campaigned against beer company sponsorship in junior hockey because it sent the wrong message. He suggested the game should partner with something more wholesome, such as milk. He won big points for that.
At his 1998 parole hearing in Winnipeg, James spoke eloquently and used his English degree from the University of Manitoba to quote from Doris Lessing and Joseph Conrad. A member of the parole panel said James had been a model prisoner and that all evidence pointed to the fact he would probably not repeat his offences.
Placed on day parole, James was told not to go near males under 18. He no longer has to abide by that restriction and doesn't. He also received a life suspension from the Canadian Hockey Association and has chosen to flout that ruling.
Plus, there's this to consider: There were counselling and therapy sessions available to James while he served his 31/2-year sentence, but sources say his attendance was spotty, to say the least. The National Parole Board wouldn't comment on that because such information is classified. The lone response was that James would have had to attend some sessions to earn parole and that there's really no way of knowing whether an individual has honestly embraced rehabilitation.
Gordon Kirke is the Toronto lawyer who was hired by the Canadian Hockey League to investigate and produce recommendations after the James scandal. Kirke spent eight months talking to coaches and players, victims and abusers. He was convinced there are two groups of offenders -- those who don't believe they have done anything wrong and those who can't help themselves.
"One guy told me that when he gets back on the street, he could be with a group of kids once, but not more than once," Kirke said.
"Because he showed no signs of remorse, [James] may fit the first group [those who don't believe they've done anything wrong]," said Kirke, who wanted it understood he was speaking in general terms. "The research I did showed it didn't matter which group you were in, you were likely to do it again. . . . Both groups are inclined to repeat."
It has been asked several times in the past few days, "If even murderers are afforded a second chance, why not James?" And the answer to that is, of course he deserves another opportunity. But what has happened so far is too disturbingly reminiscent of what happened before.
James has returned to coaching, even though he shouldn't. He's positioned himself around young boys, even though that's clearly the wrong thing to do. He's convinced certain people in Spain that what truly happened in Swift Current wasn't quite as horrible as it sounded. Most likely he portrayed it as some kind of consenting relationship between people in love, ignoring the fact his two victims were both under 16.
All of which indicates James doesn't get it, and that we need to keep picking at the wounds he created no matter how painful that may be. If we don't, we'll find a way to believe we've solved the problem and that everything is in place, our awareness heightened, to catch the next sexual predator.
That's simply not true, and we
need to keep reminding ourselves of that before we are lulled to sleep,
victims for a hungry wolf.
CALGARY -- Finding out Graham James was coaching again hit Sheldon Kennedy like a stick in the teeth.
After all the pain, anger and heartache involved with going public to have his sexually abusive coach prosecuted for his heinous crimes, it all must've seemed so suddenly, well, wasted.
With his mind racing through myriads of questions as to how this ridiculous development could come to pass, he stood back and made a conscious decision to focus his emotions on what mattered most -- his daughter Ryan.
Symbolic of his ongoing struggle to move forward through a lifetime of emotional setbacks, he took his pride and joy outside and taught her how to ride her bike.
"She has no scars, so not bad," laughed Kennedy when asked how she fared.
WOUNDS RIPPED OPEN AGAIN
Scars. Something Kennedy has spent most of his adult life dealing with. And now that the man who sexually abused him more than 350 times has resurfaced in Spain in an identical position of authority amongst youngsters, the wounds have been ripped open once again.
"I think the whole thing has kind of caught me off guard," admitted Kennedy, 31, Thursday.
"I've been trying to gather my thoughts. It's definitely bothersome he's in the game somewhere else. Whether or not he's coaching kids, from what I understand he's in a position where kids go to him to play top-level hockey. It's just like the position he had in Swift Current. I've learned over the years not to jump into things, so I'm going to find out the facts first and see what happens next."
The facts are that James was hired several months ago to coach a pro club in the six-team Spanish League. Also in charge of an affiliated youth team of players age 15-17, James caught on as a technical adviser with the Spanish national team a few weeks ago when his club's city, Majadahonda, played host to the Pool C world championship.
What happens next is likely nothing. Both the CHA and the IIHF have exhausted their jurisdiction by simply passing along the fact James was incarcerated the better part of three-and-a-half-years for sexually abusing Kennedy and another Swift Current Broncos player. Well-aware of his criminal past, which James made known from Day 1, parents and officials for the Spanish club figured his strengths as a coach outweighed the risk of subjecting their children to the unspeakable horrors of sexual abuse.
"The whole day has brought a little anger out because of the fact I'm 31 years old and I know if I had my head straight and treated my body right I could still be playing," said Kennedy, a junior star who put the wraps on his hockey career two years ago when his eight-year NHL career concluded with a season of struggle split between the IHL and Germany.
"He had a lot to do with that. Meanwhile, he's back doing what he loves doing. When you retire early, you still have that bite to get back out there, especially now, during the playoffs."
Vowing he'll do whatever he can to put an end to James' involvement with youngsters, Kennedy is trying hard to look at this shocking development in a positive light.
Hired by the CHA last month to help with the Speak Out program, initiated largely because of his brave decision to report James' improprieties, he's looking at it all as another chance to clean up abuse in a game he once loved. Just as he did a few years ago when he in-line skated across Canada to raise awareness of the issue.
As for James, Kennedy refuses to focus more anger on his abuser.
"I think he deserves a second chance -- everybody does. I've had a lot of them in my life," said Kennedy.
"But I'm waiting for the day I hear Graham James is going to be charged again. I was at his parole hearing and he didn't show any remorse. That's bothersome. You need to prove in other walks of life things have changed and not just jump back into what he was doing."
Canadians outraged that sexual deviant Graham James has resumed his career as a hockey coach in Spain are calling the Canadian Hockey Association to voice their frustration.
With governing bodies such as the CHA and the International Ice Hockey Federation admittedly powerless to stop James' career behind the bench of pro team Majadahonda and its juvenile (ages 15-17) affiliate, Canadians want to know what they can do to help get him removed.
"We've had calls from people looking to do whatever they can," said CHA spokesman Andre Brin from the organization's Calgary office.
"They want to know how they can contact the IIHF, the Spanish federation, the Spanish club that hired him ... It seems that the grassroots don't want to let this stand as it is right now."
CHA president Bob Nicholson, who has already banned James from coaching in Canada the rest of his life, plans on raising the association's concerns with the IIHF for the third time at next week's general meeting in Germany.
However, he's been warned by legal counsel not to take it much farther than alerting hockey authorities of James' criminal past.
Many believe public pressure in the form of petitions or a similar on-line campaign may be the only hope of having the James situation looked at closely by Spanish authorities.
One of the people who received plenty of support and feedback from fellow Canadians yesterday is recently-hired CHA spokesman Sheldon Kennedy, who was one of three James abuse victims.
Vowing to do what he can to put a stop to James' coaching of children, Kennedy spent the day answering phone calls and doing media interviews.
Trying hard to look at news of James' resurfacing as a good opportunity to promote the CHA's Speak Out program, Kennedy has put on a brave front while talking about the man who sexually abused him hundreds of times while he was playing for the Swift Current Broncos.
"I look at this as an opportunity to look at what the CHA and I have created and sell the program," said Kennedy, 31, speaking of the CHA's precedent-setting abuse and harassment prevention programs initiated with James' conviction in 1997.
"We're very blessed to be a part of a movement in society like this."
Noting James was upfront about his conviction when he was hired several months ago, Spanish hockey's IIHF delegate Frank Gonzalez continues to defend the club's hiring of James, insisting the Spanish Winter Sports Federation has no legal rights to prevent the hiring of a club's coach.
However, he did say the SWSF president would likely look into the matter if the league was presented with some sort of petition or public pressure.
Although James has every right to travel the world to resume his life, Spanish consul general Alonso Buron said if he was presented with written proof of James' criminal past, he would go as far as to notify authorities in Spain of James' three-and-a-half year sentence for sexually harassing Kennedy and an unnamed player.
James was also convicted of sexually harassing a 14-year-old Winnipeg boy in 1971.
James was a coach and GM in the Western Hockey League before resigning from the Calgary Hitmen in 1996 to answer to the criminal charges.
HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - Top ice hockey officials are to consider introducing rules that would prevent convicted sex offender Graham James from resuming his coaching career.
James, who was banned from ever coaching again in Canada after he was convicted of sexually assaulting two of his young players, ignited an outcry after it was learned he had resurfaced in Spain, coaching the senior and under-18 teams at a club near Madrid and assisting the Spanish national side at a recent championship.
A former-Canadian Hockey Association and Hockey News coach of the year, James plunged the hockey-mad country into nationwide soul-searching after he was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison in 1997 for his assault on two minor-aged players.
One of the players, Sheldon Kennedy, went on to a professional career in the National Hockey League and later had a movie made about his troubled life.
International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) president Rene Fasel said on Sunday: "I talked to Murray Costello (former president of the Canadian Hockey Association and a member of the IIHF council) and he wants to discuss this matter at our council meeting this week.
"There is some talk we should introduce rules that would force federations to respect suspensions imposed by other federations on players and coaches, who have committed such crimes, and should not be allowed to coach young lads.
"We will review the situation and discuss it with our lawyers to know if we can intervene in any way.
"I hate what is happening, I have four children of my own, but the Spanish people said they know what happened and he paid his bill and has a right for another chance."
Fasel admitted that currently there was legally little the IIHF could do to prevent James from pursuing his career in Spain.
The IIHF had contacted the Spanish federation about the matter but their initial investigation found no irregularities.
Francisco Bravo, vice-president of the Majadahonda club, told the IIHF he was aware of James's past but highlighted the "exemplary conduct" of the Canadian coach.
"We received the information about Mr. Graham James and we sent a letter to the Spanish Federation to find out more," said Fasel. "They told us that Mr. James informed the Spanish club about what happened and they accepted him to work for them.
"It is very difficult to do anything legally. The people of Canada decided he should be free.
"We should protect our kids the best we can. But the law says this guy should have another chance but should he have a chance in hockey?"
Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Friday that the national Sports Council had made inquiries to the Spanish Winter Sports Federation (FDI) about James's status.
The FDI confirmed they knew about James's record, but said they "did not want to make judgements about a person's past."
James, who was sentenced in 1997 to 31/2 years in jail and is banned for life from coaching in Canada, was hired by the Majadahonda Hockey Club in the fall of last year as technical director of its program.
The job involves coaching a team of boys 18 and older, plus other teams of younger boys, said the club co-ordinator Juan Francisco Bravo. James was also assistant coach of the Spanish national team this season.
Bravo said the Majadahonda club has had no problems with James and that his players in Majadahonda and their parents were informed of his criminal record in Canada.
We have never hidden anything about Graham James, Bravo said Monday.
Due to the controversy it is not clear if James will be retained for the upcoming season, Bravo said.
James has refused all media requests for interviews.
Last week the Spanish Federation of Winter Sports issued a statement saying it was looking into the matter.
James was convicted in 1997 of sexually abusing former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy and another unidentified junior player. James pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault between 1984 and 1994.
Kennedy said last week that even if the young players on the Spanish team are aware of James' past crimes, that doesn't mean they will be protected.
I'm telling you Graham is a smart man and he's manipulative, said Kennedy, who recently joined the Canadian Hockey Association to help promote an abuse prevention program that was developed in the wake of the James scandal, which shook Canadian hockey to its core in 1997.
I was at his parole hearing and he really didn't show any remorse.
Kennedy said the pressure is now on the International Ice Hockey Federation and Spanish authorities.
Bravo said a glare of media attention surrounding James' employment in Spain amounts to an unfair second round of punishment for the coach.
He is a free man, Bravo said. He already served his sentence for something he did 20 years ago.
James earns about $1,500 Cdn a month and lives in Madrid in housing provided by the team, Bravo said.
At the Majadahonda rink, the team has made special arrangements under which James does not shower with players and has his own dressing room, Bravo said.
CHA president Bob Nicholson has said that his officials notified the International Ice Hockey Federation in Switzerland on Jan. 12 of rumours that James was coaching in either Portugal or Spain - the accepted protocol.
We had a real concern, said Nicholson. We were also told by our legal counsel that we could only take it so far.
Canada will be pushing the IIHF for further action during a meeting at the men's world hockey championships, which began Saturday in Germany.
Dave Fitzpatrick, spokesman for the International Ice Hockey Federation, has said the body cannot ban anyone from taking a job in another country.
If the national association had the information, it's up to them to deal with it in the way that they can because of their local law, Fitzpatrick said.