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The 1997 Archives: Sheldon Comes Forward


1997....the healing process for Sheldon began in this year. It began in early January when he came forward to the press with his story of survival. He and Jana both started what was then known as the Sheldon Kennedy Foundation. Sheldon planned to build a ranch in Canada to assist kids with the trauma of sexual abuse.

The biggest guns in the NHL, such as the Philadelphia Flyers' Eric Lindros expressed their gratitude towards the courageous young man they shared the ice with. Others, such as then-Calgary Flame Theoren Fleury (now with the New York Rangers) didn't share that same gratitude, apparently.

In the summer of 1997, joy from finally being able to move on became short-lived when the ATV he was riding overturned and broke his leg in nine places. Two days later, he was cut from the Bruins' roster. It was now time for Sheldon to heal and rethink his course of action. It made me realize that everything happens for a reason, and just because he was out of hockey indefinately didn't mean he'd disappear. He now had a voice that couldn't be silenced.

The list of archived articles from 1997 is by no means complete. If you have any that are not displayed here, please send me a copy of the article, along with the site address you got it from and please email me.....thanks for your help!!!

Below are the archives for 1997.

Page 2

Are Your Kids Safe?

Canada's Hockey Teams Rocked By Coach-Sex Scandal

Kennedy Tries to Rebuild

Kennedy Fund Growing

Alleged Pedophile Ring Operated at Maple Leaf Gardens

No Longer a Silent Struggle

Kennedy Turns Shame into Triumph

Bruins' Kennedy a Beacon for Victims of Sexual Abuse

Hockey's Dirty Secret

Sheldon Says "Save it, Theo"

The Shame and Pain of Graham James

Sheldon Kennedy Named Newsmaker of 1997

Guy Who Really Makes You Wonder: Theo Fleury

Kennedy Haunted By Abuse

Kennedy Story Is Far From Finished

Masterton Trophy Nominees are Announced


Are your kids safe?
By Barry Came
Maclean's; Toronto
Feb 10, 1997
From hockey to schools to scouting, the hunt is on for sexual predators


She bears the burden of it still, more than a year after finally summoning the courage to reveal her terrible secret So call her Carol. It is not her real name but it does offer whatever small comfort anonymity can provide. She was only 13 years old when it started; a five-foot, 95-pound waif with enough talent as a gymnast to compete at the provincial level in her native British Columbia. "It would not happen in the gym," she recalls. "He would offer me a ride home and then stop at his house and it would happen there." "He" was Wayne Andrews, then 29, a muscular, aggressive former soldier who also happened to be one of Carol's gymnastic club coaches.

And "it" usually consisted of kissing and heavy-handed groping on Andrews's part "I knew it was wrong," says Carol now, "but I thought it was my fault because I never actually said the word 'No' to him."
Andrews regularly molested Carol for three months. The incidents did not cease, in fact, until he left the club for reasons unrelated to his behavior. But even that did not bring an end to Carol's torment. For two long years, she struggled to come to terms with often overwhelming feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment. "I wouldn't go to meets where he lived," she remembers. "I'd freak out. I'd end up crying." The pressure continued to build until, finally, it all came apart shortly before Christmas in 1994. "He called my house to say Merry Christmas to me," recounts Carol, who was by then a 1-year-old high-school student in British Columbia's Lower Mainland. "I'd been carrying it around for two years and I couldn't deal with it any more. I had to tell someone. So I told a few friends at the gym and they told me to tell my mother."

Carol's mother, of course, was stunned. "It simply never occurred to me," says the woman who, like her daughter, finds it particularly difficult to deal with the fact that Andrews was no stranger to the family. "That's what is really horrifying," she confesses with a mixture of dread and amazement. '"he fellow would come to our house for dinner. In hindsight, you feel like an idiot." Carol's mother launched a complaint that eventually led to a court case. Last October, Andrews, after pleading guilty to sexual interference, was sentenced to a year in prison. For Carol, it amounted to a vindication of sorts, a chance to finally shed dark memories and begin to heal. But for Carol's mother, the unhappy affair left in its wake a disquieting concern. "My kid had all the streetproofing things they did at school, all the things you try to explain to kids," she remarks, before asking: "I wonder why it didn't work."

Plenty of other parents across Canada are experiencing similar anxieties, particularly if their children take part in programs where they come in close contact with adult mentors. Graham James is largely responsible for that. Ever since the Western Hockey League coach was sent to prison last month for sexually assaulting two of his players, attention has focused on the yawning potential for sexual abuse in sports. Not surprisingly, the spotlight has fallen on hockey, with new scandals surfacing almost daily as those in charge of the game scramble to contain the damage. But, as Carol's case so graphically illustrates, the problem is not confined to hockey. Nor is it just within organized sport. What may be emerging, in fact, are the symptoms of an old malaise that stretches far more widely, and reaches far more deeply, than even the most worried parent dares contemplate.

That, at least, is the view of many experts in the field. Paddy Bowen, executive director of Volunteer Canada, an Ottawa-based clearing house for communitybased organizations, goes so far as to "guarantee" that child sexual abuse "is happening this minute in almost every community working with children you can imagine. It is happening with Boy Scouts, it is happening in Big Brothers and hockey and soccer and swimming. It is happening right now. It is not every second person but it is also not one in a million. We know that."

If the accounts surfacing in public are any indication, Bowen may not be exaggerating. Wayne Andrews was only one of three British Columbia-based gymnastics coaches convicted on sexual offences during a three-month period late last year. Right now, three minor hockey officials-in Winnipeg, Calgary and Grand Forks, B.C.-are either under investigation or facing charges on sex counts. Nuns in Newfoundland and a former scoutmaster in Ontario face lawsuits arising from physical, emotional and sexual abuse of youngsters in their care. At least five adults have been arrested across the land since early December for possessing computer-generated child pornography, including a respected physicist in Ottawa and the bespectacled cantor of a Halifax synagogue.

The list goes on. In Ottawa, a former army cadet volunteer was to appear in court this week on charges of gross indecency involving twin brothers for whom he became legal guardian in the late 1970s. In Montreal, a 47-year-old day care worker with a previous conviction for sexual assault on children was found guilty of molesting two toddlers and ordered held in custody for sentencing. In Nova Scotia, the government had to temporarily suspend a program under which it had budgeted $33 million last May to compensate childhood victims of abuse at three provincial youth institutions. The reason: quickly swamped with 1,250 separate claims, it was "collapsing under its own weight," according to Justice Minister Jay Abass.

None of these incidents had anything to do with the furor that erupted when Sheldon Kennedy of the NHL's Boston Bruins unveiled his harrowing tale of the sexual abuse he suffered while playing junior hockey for Graham James in Swift Current, Sask. But the publicity the scandal attracted has clearly had an effect, directing the public's eye into some of society's darker and dirtier corners. Kennedy's courage in stepping forward has prompted others to do the same. In one of the more dramatic episodes, Larry Hendrick, a 41-year-old Edmonton teacher, painted in detail the sexual advances-and attempted sexual blackmail-he was forced to endure while a 16-year-old player toiling for the late Brian Shaw, one of Western Canada's junior hockey legends. What is more, he told reporters that at least 30 of Shaw's former players had telephoned him with reports of similar experiences. "There were three players in particular who broke down on the phone," said Hendrick. "It was the first time these guys had told anybody about what happened to them."

Beyond hockey, the James affair continues to reverberate. On Jan. 13 in Halifax, for example, Provincial Court Judge Hughes Randall invoked that case as he sentenced Frank C. Hurshman, 41, of Queensland, N.S., to 15 months in jail after Hurshman pleaded guilty to indecency in a case involving a mentally handicapped boy who was occasionally in his care. "No doubt you've probably taken into account the way the press, radio and TV dealt with the story [about James] and the way the situation is viewed by the public," said Randall, in passing sentence. "The child was in your care, under your wing. And whether you're supposed to be building camps with him in the woods or coaching them as a hockey player, it's considered to be most serious and reprehensible."

Reprehensible, certainly, but neither rare nor particularly new. Pedophiles have been around almost as long as there have been children, and there is no shortage of them in Canada. In Vancouver, the police department recently disclosed that it has been searching for the past five years for the person who has been leaving obscene letters along a stretch of Cambie Street, not far from the city's downtown. Authorities have recovered more than 50 letterssome crudely illustrated, a few handwritten, most of them typedrecounting in salacious detail repeated incidents of abuse of young children. "There is such a wealth of information that all the experts feel very strongly that he has committed many molestations," says Const Anne Drennan. "We believe the victims are children of family, friends, neighbors, kids that he has been babysitting. It's not a random thing."


Last November, parents in and around Halifax breathed a collective sigh of relief when Ernest Warner went to a federal penitentiary for two years after being convicted of stalking students at 13 area high schools. In court, the Crown described the 54-year-old Sackville, N. B. resident, incredibly a foster parent of two toddlers at the time of his arrest last June, as a self-confessed "active pedophile, strongly attracted to prepubescent children, males and females." Local police had been investigating Warner for five months, following the attempted abduction of a Sackville schoolgirl. Police officers told the court about Warner's driving habits, which involved racing "like a maniac" from school to school, then slowing down whenever he spotted students. When they arrested Warner, he had a stack of chocolate candy on the front seat of his car.

Despite the pernicious nature of the problem, there is a dearth of accurate data on the damage that pedophiles wreak. The Canadian Institute of Child Health, a nonprofit organization, claims that, before the age of 18, one in four girls and one in eight boys are tricked, bribed or forced into sexual activity by a teenager or adult. According to a B. C. survey in 1992, more than 20 per cent of Grade 9 girls reported that they had been sexually abused.

But those numbers offer only a glimpse of the problem. There are, in fact, no reliable national statistics, primarily because of the difficulty in gathering data about what has been, and remains, a hidden crime. Because child welfare is a provincial responsibility, each province compiles its own figures in line with its own definitions. "This has been a really big problem for us," complains Valerie Fronczek, executive director of the Society for Children and Youth of British Columbia, an advocacy group financed largely by the United Way and private funds. "It makes it difficult to prove if things are getting any better or any worse."

The most extensive national study on the prevalence of sexual offences against the young was the Badgley Report, published in 1984 by the Committee on Sexual Offenses Against Children and Youths under the chairmanship of Robin Badgley. It found that 53 per cent of females and 31 per cent of males have been victims of unwanted sexual acts, with roughly 80 per cent of those incidents involving victims under the age of 18. A related population survey concluded that threequarters of the victims were girls.

Gordon Phaneuf, chief of the Child Maltreatment Surveillance Division at Health Canada in Ottawa, acknowledges that the Badgley statistics are now "clearly dated." All the same, he argues that they "still give you a sense of how broad the problem is." More positively, experts agree that old taboos surrounding the subject of child abuse are beginning to disappear. "The climate has definitely changed," says Phaneuf. "Many more children and adults are willing to disclose their abuse, ready to speak out about the experiences they have suffered."

Fronczek, of the B.C. Society for Children and Youth, illustrates the same point by noting that people were unwilling to talk about child sexual abuse when her organization conducted its first research into the subject in 1979. "If they did talk, it would be to say that they were sure that, yes, it did happen, but probably not that much, not that often," she says. "They would say it was an aberration and we don't really want to give it much attention. But as the years unfolded, it has got a lot of attention. It is an interesting statement on us all. There are things we just don't want to face. But over the years we have had to."

The James case certainly helped accelerate the process. Ever since the hockey scandal burst into public view, organizations dealing with youth across the country have been bombarded with inquiries. And the people in charge of organized hockey, in particular, have scrambled to introduce reforms. The Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella organization overseeing the level of junior hockey that James coached, hired Toronto sports lawyer Gordon Kirke to conduct a oneman inquiry into the game's ills.
Individual teams, meanwhile, have been adopting their own measures. Officals at the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League established a 24-hour sexual abuse hotline for its players. Farther north, the owners of the Owen Sound Platers appointed a respected local policeman to act as a "surrogate uncle" for any player in need of advice. Typical of what has been happening elsewhere in the country is the situation at Sask Sport, a federation of the province's 72 sports governing bodies. "In the past few weeks the phones have been ringing off the hook big time," says Noreen Murphy, the federation's sports development co-ordinator. "It's mostly parents, but I've had young kids call me too. `What can we do? Where can we go? Who can we trust?' These are the kinds of questions that are coming out."

They are good questions, even if there are few easy answers to them. Jan Brown, the former Reform MP from Calgary who is seeking the nod to join the Conservative party, is promoting one approach. In a private member's bill she has placed before Parliament, Brown is attempting to establish a national registry of pedophiles, making public the names and whereabouts of anyone convicted of two sexual offences involving children. Brown also supports the use of so-called chemical castrationlowering the testosterone level, and thereby the sex drive, of offenders with regular drug dosages.

The governments of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia have established various forms of screening to weed out potential molesters from any job involving children. And the federal government is moving along the same path. In 1994, Ottawa launched a national education campaign on screening and asked Volunteer Canada to head it. In the past two years, the organization has developed a screening handbook-a kind of how-to manual-and produced a video narrated by actor Al Waxman. But even the most stringent screening will not eliminate all cases of child sexual abuse. Volunteer Canada's executive director Bowen is among the first to admit that much, acknowledging: "There are no guarantees."

Perhaps the victims are in the best position to offer guidance. Carol certainly falls into that category, as, to a lesser extent, does her mother. "One of the mistakes I made was assuming that if something was wrong, my child would tell me," says the young B.C. gymnast's parent. As for Carol herself, now a 17-year-old Grade 12 student and still heavily involved in gymnastics, her counsel is more succinct. For youngsters, she advises doing what she could not do-talk. "If anything happens that you don't like, get it out in the open right away," she says. And for parents: "Listen. No matter how farfetched it seems, check it out." It is probably good advice. After all, Carol does speak from painful experience.


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Canada's Hockey Teams Rocked by Coach-Sex Scandals
Badpuppy Gay Today
Monday, 10 February, 1997
--by Patricia Conklin

"Hockey is Canada's religion, and, in fact, it is Canada itself," according to Canadians dismayed by a series of reports that many of their favorite sport's foremost coaches have been sexually abusing their teen-aged proteges with regularity. "This has really touched on hallowed ground," says John Lovell, head coach of the Owen Sound Platers.

The coach-hockey-sex scandal blew sky-high with the January sentencing of Graham James, one of the most successful coaches in Western Canada's junior leagues. James was sentenced to three and a half years for abusing two of his teen players "hundreds of times." One of the youths, handsome Sheldon Kennedy, now a forward with the Boston Bruins, said that James had frequently taken advantage of him.

"When things like that happen, you hide your feelings and you never talk," said Kennedy to Canadian newspapers. The Globe and Mail, a leading Canadian journal, called hockey "a diseased game." Graham James was characterized by TV's host of "Hockey Night in Canada," as "a creep." The host, Don Cherry, also used other words to denounce James but these words, according to media reports, were not suitable for broadcast. "This is one of the worst things I have ever heard in my life," said Cherry, asking to be understood for his misuse of language.

Unrestrained competition for high hockey status rules in Canada. The nation has three times as many hockey arenas as hospitals. With a population of only 30 million, nearly four and a half million are engaged in the sport as coaches, players, volunteers and administrators. There are a half-million boys, aged 4 to 20, active in youth leagues. Sheldon Kennedy said of his coach that most of the players seemed "willing" to do almost anything to guarantee professional success.

It is estimated that sixty-five percent of players now in the N.H.L. come through the junior leagues where the scandals have erupted. Kurt Walsh, 19, captain of the Owen Sound Platers, believes that such abuse is "a part of hockey, a bad part that's rarely seen." Walsh admits that "it's a tough situation."

Another prominent coach, Brian Shaw, who passed away in 1993, now stands accused of enticing and threatening young players into sexual relations for 30 years. Shaw was also general manager and later chairman of the Western Hockey League Board of Governors. Two other coaches, who both plead guilty in Quebec, are now under public scrutiny for assaults on hockey-playing minors. One was sentenced to five months in prison.

There's no solution in the works, according to those who'd restore hockey's stellar reputation. No one can estimate how long it will take Canada to get over the coach-sex scandals. Christopher Yong, a Platers executive says that "it may be a scab that's going to be there forever and ever, but hockey will survive." Yong reflected that "everybody in the world" associates Canada with hockey.

1998 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission: eMail gaytoday@badpuppy.com
This article came from Gay Today. (gaytoday.badpuppy.com)


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Kennedy Tries To Rebuild
2/13/97
By The Associated Press


CALGARY, Alberta -- Bruins forward Sheldon Kennedy says he's happy to once again find himself fretting over goals, assists and his plus-minus rating.

After months of reliving years of sexual abuse by his Western Hockey League coach Graham James -- sentenced to 31/2 years in prison last month for sexually assaulting Kennedy and another player -- Kennedy has begun rebuilding his life and career.

Kennedy, 27, has appeared in 28 games for the Bruins this season, scoring four goals and adding eight assists before Tuesday's game against his former team, the Calgary Flames.

The Calgary crowd gave Kennedy a short ovation when his name was announced as part of the Bruins' starting lineup. His first shift back in Calgary came to a quick end after his line was pulled for allowing German Titov's goal just 21 seconds into the game.

Titov's goal -- Calgary's fastest of the season -- set the pace as the Flames went on to a 5-1 victory.

Dave Gagner, Steve Chiasson, Jonas Hoglund and Ron Stern also scored for the Flames and Trevor Kidd made 31 saves. Bruins defenseman Barry Richter spoiled Kidd's shutout try with just over a minute remaining.

"I'm just glad this game is over," Kennedy said. "This game was a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. It was hard to concentrate on playing tonight. Now I'm just looking to concentrate on hockey."

Kennedy signed with the Bruins last summer as a free agent after two seasons with the Flames, where he first told some teammates of abuse by James.

"I had a hard time last year with hockey in general," Kennedy said before the game. "But I like hockey again. I didn't like it for a long time, I'm starting to enjoy playing again."

He was last in Calgary in early January for the trial and sentencing of James.

At that time he went public with his story, shaking junior hockey to its core with revelations of abuse stretching back into the mid 1980s when he was a promising prospect with the Broncos.

Kennedy said he came very close to quitting hockey and reportedly contemplated suicide while with the Flames.

Former Calgary teammate Ron Stern recalled talking with Kennedy when he was considering leaving the game.

"I told him that if you've got a skill and it can make a good living for you and your family, you shouldn't throw it away," said Stern. "If you quit hockey and let it get the best of you, it has ruined your life."

Kennedy has instead turned a dreadful situation into one that is helping many others. He has been called a hero for raising awareness that abuse exists in sport by revealing James assaulted him about 300 times.

Kennedy said he has been overwhelmed by the number of letters he has received from other victims of abuse, most of them from people not associated with hockey or any other sport.

On Monday, Kennedy announced he has accepted a land donation near Radium, B.C., from friend and Vancouver businessman Steven Funk. The land is in the mountainous Kootenay region southwest of Calgary and he plans to establish a ranch refuge there for abused children.


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Kennedy Fund Growing
2/19/97


DENVER - The Colorado Avalanche have donated $16,500 to Sheldon Kennedy's new foundation to help abused kids.

The Avalanche Community Fund donated $2,500, while the other $14,000 was raised in the Avalanche dressing room.

Kennedy, a winger with the Boston Bruins, went public earlier this year with his story of being sexaully abused by his junior hockey coach, Graham James. James has been sentenced to 31/2 years in prison.

(c) 1997 Associated Press


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Alleged Pedophile Ring Operated at Maple Leaf Gardens
(c) 1997 Associated Press


TORONTO (Feb 19, 1997 - 15:42 EST) -- In another sex-abuse scandal to jolt Canadian hockey, an alleged pedophile ring of Maple Leaf Gardens employees lured dozens of boys into sex with offers of tickets, hockey sticks and autographs.

One alleged victim says he was part of the sex ring from 1975 to 1982 in which group sex took place in the back rooms of the building -- one of hockey's most renowned arenas -- sometimes during Toronto Maple Leafs games.

A former maintenance worker in the building, Gordon Stuckless, 47, appeared in court Wednesday on charges of indecent assault and gross indecency. He worked at the arena until the early 1990s as a backstage helper at concerts and hockey games.

At least two other employees at the arena, one of them deceased, allegedly were involved in the sex ring.

"We have reason to believe there are many, many victims, but only one is capable of going to court at this time," said Toronto police detective Dave Tredrea.

That complainant is Martin Kruze, 34, who says the abuse started when he was 13 in 1975 and continued until 1982. Kruze said he has attempted suicide several times and undergone 10 years of counseling.

This is the second major sex-abuse case this year that has tarnished the image of Canada's beloved national sport.

In January, a highly respected junior league coach, Graham James, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for repeated sexual abuse of two of his players over a period of years. One of his victims was Sheldon Kennedy, now a forward with the Boston Bruins, who went public with his story of being abused more than 300 times by James.

Similar cases involving at least three other minor league coaches have come under police investigation, and junior hockey administrators have been implementing new procedures for screening coaches.

Kruze first made his allegations in 1993 when he sued Maple Leaf Gardens. He settled out of court for about $45,000, with the stipulation he not go public with his allegations, but decided this month to come forward anyway.

Cliff Fletcher, president of the Gardens management company and general manager of the Maple Leafs, said police weren't notified in 1993 because an investigation by a private detective was inconclusive.

"It couldn't substantiate the allegations," Fletcher told the Toronto Star. "We thought at worst it was an isolated incident, if indeed it was a true incident."

Kruze said his submission to repeated sex with a now-deceased equipment manager at the Gardens was rewarded with free entry into the area for him and his friends for hockey games and rock concerts. He said ushers often allowed him into the press box, and he sometimes dined at the Gardens' exclusive Hot Stove Lounge.

The Toronto Star quoted another alleged victim, who requested anonymity, as saying he was lured into sex because a staff member allowed him to watch Leafs practices and gave him used hockey sticks.

The Maple Leafs, who are tied for last in the NHL, intend to build a new arena soon but no site has been selected.


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No Longer A Silent Struggle
Dateline: 02/22/97


Until the past few decades, survivors of abuse and incest had little choice but to suffer in silence. Abuse in the home was the silent epidemic that was often considered to be a 'family matter'. It was rare that a survivor, particularly a survivor in the public eye, would disclose what happened behind closed doors. Today, survivors in the public eye or who were abused by people in the public eye are coming forward to show other survivors that they are not alone.

Last month, Sheldon Kennedy, a Boston Bruins hockey player, publicly disclosed he had been sexually abused as a teen by his junior league coach, Graham James, who was sentenced to three years in prison. Although Canadian law protects the identity of the victim in these types of cases, Kennedy said he cam forward so that kids would know that it is alright to come forward. He has shown real strength in coming forward as a professional athlete in the macho world of hockey and overcoming the significant barriers to disclosure faced by male survivors of sexual abuse. His heroism has been met with wide-spread support including the support of his team. His disclosure has led to investigation of similar cases of abuse by coaches. Also, in the aftermath of Graham James' conviction and the publicity following Mr. Kennedy's disclosure, the Canadian Hockey League which oversees Canada's three regional major junior hockey leagues drafted new guidelines for the protection of youthful players.

Sheldon Kennedy is not the only person whose status as a public figure and courage in coming forward have brought attention to issues of abuse and incest and helped other survivors seek the help they needed to recover:

In 1989, Marilyn Van Derbur Atler, a former Miss America, came forward with her story of incest. Her disclosure raised public awareness about incest and she has become an advocate for sexually violated children. She is the host of the video Once Can Hurt a Lifetime, in which children and adults tell their stories of sexual abuse and how it has affected their lives.

Oprah Winfrey also publicly disclosed her story of sexual abuse as a child. At one time children who were sexually abused were told that their lives were ruined forever. Now, Oprah Winfrey provides a dramatic example that a survivor can triumph over trauma and have a full life. Oprah does not shy away from tackling the issue of child abuse. For example, she publicly takes on pedophiles on her talk-show and is the host of the award-winning "Scared Silent: Exposing and Ending Child Abuse", a myth-shattering program about child abuse.

Perhaps one of the first public figures to come forward and talk about her personal story of child abuse is Christina Crawford, whose book, "Mommie Dearest", became a best seller. Although Ms. Crawford was accused of exploiting her mother's fame, she has turned her private pain into public action as a pioneer in making child abuse an issue of national concern and the author of "No Safe Place - The Legacy of Family Violence".

For survivors of abuse and incest, the public attention being focused on these issues have led to many positive changes. It has become easier for survivors to obtain protective orders to keep abusers away from them. Today, advocacy programs, shelters, counseling programs, and support groups are available to survivors in most areas. Online, there are hundreds of related sites and news groups. Additionally, books and newsletters bring support to survivors even in the most remote areas. For survivors of abuse and incest, there has never been a better time to find the resources needed to recover. More and more survivors are no longer struggling in silence.


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Kennedy Turns Shame Into Triumph
3/19/97
Daniel Mears / The Detroit News


Sheldon Kennedy's revelation of his sexual abuse as a junior has won him praise and respect throughout the NHL.

Sheldon Kennedy knew, beyond a doubt, that someday he would have to let the demons out. Not for anybody else's sake, you understand. For himself, his family and his precious 14-month-old daughter, Ryan.

That his revelations have mobilized a nation against a cause is gratifying, and a source of considerable pride. But for a young man finally able to prioritize his life after more than a decade of inner turmoil, there is no shame in putting himself first.

"When my daughter was born, I took a look at her, and I knew," Kennedy said. "The position I'm in, being in the National Hockey League, I knew I needed to deal with it. I had to do something about it."

What Kennedy, a former Red Wing now playing with the Boston Bruins, did was to reveal that he was sexually abused by his junior coach, Graham James. Kennedy and a second unnamed victim also now playing in the NHL were offered a chance by the presiding judge to remain anonymous. Kennedy knew he couldn't keep silent. The cleansing process demanded he speak out, and he has done so with dignity.

"I'm a long ways from where I want to be, but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel," he said as he prepared for tonight's game against Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.

"I still feel weird, but at least I know why I feel weird."

James was sentenced to 31/2 years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual abuse in a case that rocked Canada last year and continues to have repercussions. A court order prohibited publication of the names of the two victims, but Kennedy went public anyway.

James' conviction has been front-page news across Canada.

There has been widespread criticism of the liberal sentence handed down against James, but Kennedy is convinced others will step forward and more charges will be brought forth, keeping James imprisoned for much longer.

"A year down the road there will be a lot more people dealing with this," he said. "There are two, three dozen more players involved. This started way before me."

Earlier this year, the Toronto Globe and Mail published its list of "25 (sports) people who made a difference" in the way Canadians live. It included many of the most powerful and influential people in the country, including Paul Beeston, owner of the Toronto Blue Jays; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman; NFL boss Paul Tagliabue, and even Don Cherry.

But No. 1 on the list was Kennedy, whose story of abuse was a compelling and powerful commentary and, according to the newspaper, "influenced the way we view development in our national game -- and how vigilant parents must be."

Kennedy's shame has become his triumph. The hockey community and the media have greeted Kennedy not with disparaging words and awkward glances but with compassion.

"I knew I would get support," said Kennedy, who has eight goals and 10 assists in 45 games. "I've been treated with such respect, by everybody, the media -- that was the key thing for me. That's when I knew finally I had done something good.

"The guys in hockey realize this isn't a hockey issue. It's a life issue. When you're 14 years old, you look up to junior coaches. These guys are like the NHL. You don't have a clue what to do (about the abuse). I was really scared.

"It's tough to relate and to understand. If there's one thing I wish I could do is invent a pill for people to take so they could feel and understand one time, to feel what you (a sexual abuse victim) feel."

James stripped Kennedy of his self-esteem and robbed him of his innocence. Beyond that, the abuse contravened his hockey career. Coming out of junior hockey, he was regarded as a talented player and speedy skater with considerable potential for the NHL.

But his professional career wobbled like a punch-drunk pug. He was depicted as a wild kid with an alcohol problem and no direction in life. In fact, there was a deeper, darker problem.

Now everybody understands where the demons came from.

"I think I'm a pretty humorous guy," he said. "I took it to extremes at times (in an attempt) to run and to hide. I always had to make myself feel good about coming to the rink. It's still tough to understand the things that went on. I try to look beyond that because when I look back it freaks me out."

Kennedy, 27, initiated the criminal investigation last September, saying he was sexually assaulted more than 300 times, beginning when he was 14. James resigned as coach of the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen after the investigation became public. Kennedy played for James at Swift Current of the WHL.

In a televised interview from prison several months ago, James said he would like to still be friends with Kennedy.

"He doesn't get it," Kennedy said. "He's a sick man."


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Bruins' Kennedy a Beacon for Victims of Sexual Abuse; NHL: His disclosure about own tortured past has helped others come forward and put him in line for Masterton Trophy
By HELENE ELLIOTT
Jun 19, 1997


The letters came in thick, heavy piles, about a thousand a week at first. There have been too many letters for Sheldon Kennedy to count, but never so many that he will become inured to the horrifying tales they tell. He knows their stories all too well, because he lived them.
From teenagers to 50-year-olds, the letter writers reveal their darkest secrets. Like Kennedy, who in January disclosed he had been sexually abused by his junior hockey coach more than 300 times over a 10-year period, they also had been violated by someone they trusted. Their lives were clouded by an anger they couldn't understand, their self-esteem shattered by shame.

Unable to voice the unmentionable, they suffered in silence until Kennedy gave them the courage to speak.

"It's remarkable the amount of support, not only for myself but for the topic of {combating} sexual abuse," said Kennedy, who passed through the Detroit and Calgary organizations before joining the Boston Bruins last season. "When you're being abused, you tend to think you're alone, you're in it by yourself. I never had an inkling how much of this goes on in our society. That's the biggest surprise to me, how prominent it is."

Although he's gratified his disclosure made it easier for other victims to confront their past--and led to his nomination for the Masterton Trophy, to be awarded today at the NHL awards banquet to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey--his frankness created new problems. That's because with every well-intentioned expression of sympathy he receives and every interview he does, he relives his nightmares.

Kennedy, 28, is almost as much a prisoner as is Graham James, who is serving a 3 1/2-year sentence in a Canadian jail after pleading guilty to two counts of abuse against Kennedy and another unnamed player. Kennedy is still seeking professional and emotional equilibrium, still fighting old demons. He knows those demons can be held in abeyance, but they might never vanish.

"The hardest thing about being abused is to get people to understand the way you feel. It's not like a broken arm. You can't see the hurt and the problem," said Kennedy, who was inspired to take action by the birth of his daughter, Ryan, now 17 months old. "It's a love and trust problem. The amount of shame that comes takes its toll.

"The biggest part for me is now I understand why I feel the way I feel. Before I felt like I was just a weird guy. I understand it better now, and when you understand why you feel a certain way, it's easier to deal with."

Easier, but not simple. He can be skittish around people until he feels he can trust them, and he often backs out of interviews several times before keeping his word. When he does speak, however, his honesty is gut-wrenching.

"It's going to take other victims time {to come forward}. The whole point is to get help," he said. "It's not so much people coming forward with names. It's my choice to come forward. I don't expect anyone else to do it."

Eager to avoid the appearance of making money off his misfortune, he declined to be a guest on Geraldo Rivera's talk show but agreed to an interview on a TV newsmagazine. Plans for a book fell through, but he has a tentative deal for a TV movie about his life that would educate kids. Still, he's moving slowly as he encounters new psychological barriers.

"Ever since he was 14 years old, he was out of control. Graham James was in control of his life and what he did was drink and party," said his agent, former NHL defenseman Tom Laidlaw. "Now he wants to be in total control, but you can't just flip a switch and be in total control.

"Sometimes you just have to step back and say, 'Let's realize what this guy's been through.' All in all, he's been pretty good."
The good days outnumber the bad. He missed much of the season to pursue his case against James and so played only 56 games, getting eight goals and 18 points. A slight but speedy right wing, he has become an excellent penalty killer, and he led the Bruins with four short-handed goals.

Since the season ended, he has spent most of his time working with the Sheldon Kennedy Foundation, which he established to help victims of abuse get counseling and repair relationships with their families. A Canadian businessman gave him the deed to a 65-acre tract in the mountains of British Columbia, where he plans to develop a ranch where abused children and their families can retreat and receive professional counseling. He couldn't do this even a few months ago, he said, because, "It's too much when I still have to deal with my own garbage inside. People think when you come forward, all the garbage comes out, but I've still got a lot of work to do. It took a long time to get to where I was."

He was a lonely kid, unable to get along with his stern parents, and he grabbed the chance to play for the junior team in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. His parents never thought twice, because it's common for Canadian boys to leave home and play in distant towns to further their hockey prospects.

He was first victimized when he was 14. James had total sway over Kennedy's career and soon had equal influence over his life.

"The coach is so respected. Your parents send you away and say, 'Do what he says.' At that age, you listen. That's your first step if you want to play pro," Kennedy said. "He was really a nice guy. He did his thing. He didn't have to scare you, although he had a shotgun when he was laying in bed {the first time James abused him}.

"They just know you're in such a scared position. You absolutely have no clue about what to do. A lot of people probably think, 'Why don't you just kick him or run away?' but you can't. You're vulnerable."

Unable to express his fear and revulsion, Kennedy began drinking to numb his feelings. He scored more than 100 points in his last two junior seasons but was known as a troublemaker. James propagated that image after Kennedy was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1988, telling them Kennedy was wild and only he could keep Kennedy in line.
Jimmy Devellano, the Red Wings' senior vice president for hockey operations, saw nothing in James but an apparently friendly desire to steer a wayward boy onto a better path.

"I liked Sheldon. He was a good kid. He had good speed and he was feisty, but we had a problem with his drinking," Devellano said. "I remember me personally taking him out to a rehab place in Denver to try to get his drinking straightened out. I had a lot of conversations with Sheldon. Some were soft and some were me giving him holy hell. I did not detect anything suspicious.

"Graham James' name would come up in the conversations and Sheldon never indicated to me at any time that there was any problem. Graham used to call me {and ask}, 'Is Sheldon in trouble again?' He always seemed very concerned."

Said Kennedy: "He always put me down. It was amazing. He was such a smart, manipulative guy. He manipulated a lot of people, press and parents and people in hockey."

Despite a 19-goal season in 1992-93, the Red Wings gave up on him and traded him to Winnipeg in 1994. Calgary claimed him on waivers but let him go as a free agent last summer. By then, he had begun the process that would enable him find some peace.

After a playoff game last spring, he told several Calgary teammates he had been abused; shocked, they advised him to get professional help. He saw a psychologist and filed charges against James, who was coach, general manager and part-owner of a junior team in Calgary. Kennedy also asked Laidlaw to represent him, having gotten Laidlaw's name from a former Detroit teammate, Dallas Drake.

"I said to Dallas at the time, 'What am I getting myself into?' " Laidlaw said. "Dallas saw him as a fun-loving young man, troubled, but not really a bad guy. Dallas didn't know anything about the abuse. He said, 'He's a great kid and if you work with him, you could probably help him.'

"When Sheldon first called me last spring, he told me he wanted to save his reputation and I basically told him he had to straighten out. The next time he called, he told me about the abuse. It made the first conversation seem silly. . . . I didn't understand what was going on."

Devellano doesn't understand why Kennedy didn't act sooner. "The biggest surprise is the length of time from the time he left junior {in 1989}. Nothing ever seemed to surface {in the interim}," Devellano said. "And I knew Graham James. I know Graham James. I don't know. It's all a little confusing."

Kennedy sees the lapse as short, having heard from victims who waited longer--or have yet to speak. "You look at a lot of people that are 50 years old and starting to come forward and deal with it now. A lot of people live with it," he said. "I talk to psychologists, and they think it's good I came out with it pretty quickly. I didn't have family or close friends to tell."

NHL players were quick to support him and many have donated money to his foundation. "I wasn't really sure what the reaction was going to be. It's a life issue, not a hockey issue. People understand that," he said.

He also inspired others to seek justice. Citing Kennedy, Martin Kruze of Toronto brought to light a pedophile ring that operated in Maple Leaf Gardens over three decades. Complaints were filed by nearly 50 alleged victims and two arrests were made. "It's amazing and frightening," Kennedy said, "yet I'm ecstatic about being able to make a mark on this sort of thing."

Someday, he will tell his daughter about the agony he endured and how she unwittingly helped him set himself free.

"My life was very unorganized, but once my daughter was born, I knew I had to do something to get my life where I wanted it to be. I just felt it was the right thing to do," he said. "I felt I was put on this earth for a reason, put in the NHL for a reason. I had to make this stand."


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Hockey's Dirty Secret - (C) 1997 THN
No story captivated and horrified the hockey world more than Sheldon Kennedy's revelation he was sexually assaulted by major junior coach Graham James. It was, unhappily, the story of the season and heads out list of 1996-1997's Top 25 Stories as compiled and written by Season in Review Editor Jason McKay.
By Rick Mayoh

The letter was addressed to Sheldon Kennedy. In it was a medal that had been awarded to a soldier for bravery in the Persian Gulf War.

"He said I deserved it more than he did," Kennedy said.

People inside and outside the hockey world have labeled Kennedy a hero. That wasn't exactly what Kennedy had in mind when he made the shocking disclosure in January that he had been repeatedly sexually abused by his junior coach, but that is what happened.

Before that, Kennedy was a fourth-liner for the Boston Bruins whose career had been marked more by torubles off the ice than accomplishments on it. But Kennedy's attempt to escape his own pain and raise awareness of sexual abuse has placed him in the spotlight and forced those at all levels to confront the issue.

Kennedy's escape from the ordeal formally began last August when he lodged a complaintwith Calgary police, alleging his former junior coach, Graham James, sexually assaulted him about 300 times between 1984 and 1990. James, one of the most successful coaches in Western League history, disputed the facts of the case, but pled guilty to assaulting Kennedy and an unnamed player 350 times while he was their coach with the Swift Current Broncos. James, who resigned as coach and GM of the Calgary Hitmen before the season, was sentenced Jan. 2 to 3 1/2 years in prison.

James was contacted by The Hockey News, but declined to be interviewed.

The players' identities were protected by a court order, but Kennedy stepped forward two days after James was sentenced. Kennedy went public to help the healing process and to bring attention to the issue of sexual abuse.

Just now I'm starting to realize some of the things that are going on," Kennedy said in an interview with THN in mid-June. "I can start to really understand and work on my issues. The hardest part is to try to explain to people in words what's going on when you can't figure it out yourself. People don't understand, although they want to. But I'm getting better. I have good days and bad."

Kennedy, his wife Jana and agent Tom Laidlaw, have been overwhelmed by the public response since Kennedy came forward. Kennedy said he received 1,000 letters a week initially from all over the world. He has appeared on Oprah, Prime Time Live, Hockey Night In Canada and Good Morning America to tell his story.

He created the Sheldon Kennedy Foundation. Vancouver businessman Steve Funk donated _____ acres of land in southeastern __________, where Kennedy hopes to build a ranch to help abused youths.

"My recovery is about helping kids," Kennedy said, "and I'll be right through that stuff with them."

Former NHL greats Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito are on the foundation's board of directors. It has already received more than $100,000 in donations, including $50,000 from wives of Philadelphia Flyers' players.

Kennedy's saga also spawned a thorough internal investigation of junior hockey and prompted the CHA to implement a screening program for all potential volunteers.

The foundation is also developing a website and has joined forces with Kids Help Phone to help raise funds and provide access to counselling. Kids Help Phone is a 24-hour telephone counselling service that receives more than 3,000 calls a day across Canada on 14 lines. But because of the volume of calls, fewer than half the callers get through on the first attempt.

"The staff is very surprised to notice more boys calling," said supervisor Carolyn Tremblay.

Not all of the calls about sexual abuse were from children, though.

"There were times I'd be in my office in tears," said Laidlaw, an NHL defenseman for 10 years. "You'd get dads calling whose sons were sexually abused and they didn't know what to do. They'd be crying at the other end of the line."

Kennedy, meanwhile, played 56 games this past season with the Bruins, scoring eight goals and 18 points. He earned $250,000, but the Bruins decided June 24 not to pick up the last year of his contract for $400,000. A day earlier, Kennedy broke his left leg just below the hip in an off-road accident near Sylvan Lake, Alta.

Kennedy was riding a Suzuki four-wheel all-terrain vehicle along an abandoned rail-line when it overturned and pinned him. He had embarked on a rigorous off-season conditioning program and was intent on resurrecting a once-promising career. Now a 28-year-old unrestricted free agent with a broken leg, Kennedy's NHL future is uncertain to say the least.

Before the accident, Kennedy said for the first time in his pro career he is driven to be the best player he can be.

"My sense is that he impressed enough with his attitude and his ability that he could contribute somewhere," Laidlaw said before Kennedy's injury.

Kennedy was one of the most electrifying players in junior hockey eight years ago. In 1989, he led the Broncos to the Memorial Cup and enjoyed two 50-goal seasons in Swift Current. The way Kennedy figures, if he could play eight years in the NHL with no physical activity aside from carrying his personal baggage, he can accomplish much more by putting his mind to it.

"I've played eight years and I've never lifted a weight or ridden a bike," he said. "I know I can be a way better player than I've been so far."

Meanwhile, Kennedy is enjoying spending time at home with Jana and their one-year-old daughter, Ryan. He is growing closer to his mother, Shirley, but his relationship with his father, Mel, remains strained.

There are many issues still to be confronted. One of them is alcohol.

"Because of what has happened in the past, it wouldn't be a stretch to say Sheldon has an alcohol problem," Laidlaw said. "But from what I've seen, it's under control."

Kennedy said he is not an alcoholic, that he drank in the past to numb his feelings, not because he craved it.

An agreement has been reached with Baton Broadcasting in Toronto to produce a movie based on Kennedy's life. Kennedy will be a consultant and public service announcements are part of the package.

Asked who he would choose to portray himself, the witty Kennedy said comedian Jim Carrey. "You need fun guys," Kennedy said. "The kids would love him."


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Sheldon Says, "Save it, Theo."
Thursday, October 30, 1997
By JASON van RASSEL -- Calgary Sun


Sheldon Kennedy says Theo Fleury can save any explanation he has over comments the Flames star made about the night Kennedy was sexually abused by Graham James as Fleury slept nearby.

Fleury said Tuesday that given the chance to speak with Kennedy, he'd like to apologize to his former Flames teammate.

Reached in Denver yesterday, Kennedy reacted cautiously to news of Fleury's apology.

"I don't really want to comment on what Theo says -- I don't want to get in a match with him in the newspapers," he said.

Kennedy and Fleury were junior hockey teammates during a 1986 trip to California where their former coach James forced Kennedy into a sex act while Fleury slept in the backseat.

In an earlier interview that drew an angry response from Kennedy, Fleury said: "I didn't see anything ... in my eyes (the sex act) didn't happen, because I didn't see that happen."

Kennedy said he won't be seeking any explanation from Fleury.

"I'm not going to pursue it," he said. "But if we happen to run into each other and have a chit chat, it could come up."

Kennedy's revelation he had been sexually abused by James over a 10-year period led to the former coach's conviction in January and a 3 1/2 year prison sentence, which he's serving in Manitoba.

Fleury said his comments shouldn't be taken as a judgment on whether or not the assault occurred -- he simply meant he doesn't remember anything because he was asleep.

But Kennedy said Fleury should just keep to himself if he doesn't want to talk about the incident, rather than making ambiguous or conflicting comments.

"If you don't want to talk, just say, `No comment.' If he's going to talk about it, I wish he'd talk about it," Kennedy said. "Don't beat around the bush."

Meanwhile, James is due in a Winnipeg court today to face two new sex charges stemming from alleged contact with a 14-year-old boy in 1971.


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The Shame and Pain of Graham James
11-6-97
by Corey Atkinson
Sports Writer


Graham James kept a lot of people in the dark. Unfortunately for his victims, a lot of them prefer to stay there rather than deal with what has become the worst scandal to ever hit hockey.

By now, everyone must know that James, who was so greatly respected by almost everyone, pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges that will keep him in jail until the year 2000.

The worst part about what happened, not only in Swift Current but apparently in other dressing rooms across the Western Hockey League, is that people associated with these crimes have chosen not to speak rather than allow the truth to come out about these criminals.

Some people that the Carillon have tried to contact have either refused comment, like University of Alberta coach Rob Daum, or spoke only on the condition that only the vaguest questions be asked, like Swift Current Broncos forward Jeff Kirwan.

"I really thought he was a good coach," said Kirwan. "He always had a winning team."

His won-lost record was never in question. Obviously he had a knack for scouting some of the most talented players in hockey, like Theoren Fleury, Geoff Sanderson, and, unfortunately for him, Sheldon Kennedy.

The Boston Bruins left winger who courageously came forward to speak about his assaults has urged those assaulted by James to either press criminal charges or deal with it in with psychiatric help. No one disagrees.

The only way for the complete and total truth to come out is for the people associated with these reprehensible coaches to step from behind their walls of silence and emerge with everything they know.

Reports have surfaced recently that the former WHL president Ed Chynoweth may have ignored rumblings in the league regarding Shaw.

Whatever the case, it is clear that Graham James was not the first coach to make advances on his players. Whether it is the iceberg or just the tip, the truth must be allowed to get out.

Eyes on Sport appears weekly


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Kennedy Named Newsmaker of The Year
December 27, 1997


Former hockey player Sheldon Kennedy has been named Canada's newsmaker of the year. His revelations of sexual abuse in junior hockey shattered Canada's idyllic image of the game.

Kennedy's decision to talk about years of abuse he endured from junior coach Graham James forced Canadians to face a grim reality: that sexual predators can take advantage of youngsters' NHL dreams and turn them into lifelong nightmares.

Until a year ago, James was a well-regarded, championship-winning coach in the Western Hockey League. Now he's serving a 42-month prison sentence for molesting young players, including Kennedy, who went public last January.

Kennedy's courage inspired hundreds of men to come forward with their own tales of abuse.

Newspaper editors and broadcast news directors pointed to Kennedy's bravery in naming him Canada's top newsmaker of 1997 in a survey by The Canadian Press and Broadcast News.


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Guy Who Really Makes You Wonder: Theo Fleury
12/31/97

br> On the ice, Fleury has always been an unlikeable character -- high sticks, nasty words, key goals. Off the ice, Fleury revealed himself this season to be just as unpleasant. His brain-dead comments regarding Sheldon Kennedy (he was asleep while an assault took place nearby him, hence it didn't happen) and demand that people respect his privacy are at odds with his new semi-autobiography, a self-serving, overly flattering look at only the parts of Fleury's life that make him out to be a hero. That Fleury kept knowledge of Graham James' crimes and tendencies to himself in order to preserve his own reputation is only speculation at this point, but certainly not farfetched.


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Kennedy Haunted By Abuse

"The best way people will be able to understand, you know you go in for an operation and they take out this big tumor and replace it with another one and you've got to rebuild it right from the start. That's the way I feel. It's like they opened up your skin and took all your insides out, left your heart there, and replaced them and you've gotta find all your new feelings.

"If there's one thing I could invent in this world it would be a pill that you could give these sexual assaulters that they wouldn't be able to get it up and that they would have to live life all mixed up, as mixed up mentally as they make you. That's what I would love to be able to do because I think that's a bigger punishment (than jail)," he said.

Kennedy sees a psychiatrist once a week. As he rebuilds his life, he wants his story told so that others who have been, or are being sexually abused, will be less afraid to come forward.

"I know how I felt in there and I was very lonely and I was very scared to tell people how I felt because they wouldn't believe me," he told reporters.

"I always felt I wasn't normal and I (want to) get things out to let these people know it is all right to tell somebody because there are people out there that understand where you are coming from."

Kennedy came forward on Sept. 3, 1996 by taking his complaints of sexual abuse by James to Calgary city police.

The decision was in part spurred by the fact that he saw James regularly at the Canadian Airlines Saddledome where he was coach of the Calgary Hitmen, and in part because Kennedy and his wife had just had a child.

"I had a hard time going to the rink and seeing Graham with kids," said the victim.

The court heard Kennedy, now 27, was the victim of 300 assaults by James who also pleaded guilty to 50 assaults on another player he coached. That player is not being named to protect his identity and privacy. Kennedy, who admitted his home life in the small farming community of Elkhorn, Man., was far from perfect, said James represented a father figure for him when he was 14.

"You know, I couldn't wait to get away from home and to meet Graham - he was that thing a 14-year-old was looking for, a father figure, you know."

The first sexual encounter between James and Kennedy was in Winnipeg at James' apartment in 1984, court heard. From that point on, Kennedy said James, who had seen him at a hockey school in Winnipeg, controlled his hockey career and his life.

"He had this whole thing planned. He knew what he was doing. It's the way they work. He always keeps you put down so you'd always have to look to him as the only person who could help you," Kennedy added.

James pleaded guilty to the offences and admitted in a statement read to the court that; "I offer no excuses. I blame nobody but myself. I was selfish."

But he added: "I am truly sorry that this happened."

When Kennedy was 15 he told James a lie - that he had been abused by a teacher - in the hopes that James would stop the molestation.

"He didn't even blink an eye," said Kennedy. "He kept me with him all the time. It was like we were married. It was unbelievable."

Kennedy further complicated his life.

He said he sometimes turned to alcohol to chase away his problem. On Jan. 1, 1995 he was charged with possession of marijuana. The charges were later dropped. In the summer of 1993 he plea-bargained on a drunk-driving charge. Prior to training camp he was jailed for two weeks for violating probation orders stemming from the charge.

The healing process has begun, Kennedy said Saturday.

"It's a weird thing. A lot of times when I drank it made me feel normal at the time. But now, dealing with these problems I don't need a substance to bring my feelings out. I'm learning to talk about it. I truly do not believe that I am an alcoholic or a drug addict. I'm only a quarter of the way there but I'm getting better. I can feel things now," Kennedy said.

"I'm starting to like myself again, I didn't care about myself for a long time."


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Kennedy Story is Far From Finished
by Matt Brown, Boston Correspondent


This is the obligatory Sheldon Kennedy article. You knew it had to happen. After all, every other hockey publication in the world has carried one or more stories dealing with the Graham James trial for sexual abuse of young hockey players in his trust, and the subsequent revelation that Sheldon Kennedy of the Boston Bruins was the primary victim. Everything that should be written about this case, and then some, has been written.

Hasn't it? Well, if the answer were "yes," we could stop right here. Unfortunately, it just isn't that simple. Most of the press coverage has concentrated on Kennedy's bravery, and that is good. Very good. Another portion has been angled to paint Graham James as a nefarious child molester, deservedly. The rest is divided among hand-wringing, speculation, denials, and "if only we'd known" stories.

That's not where this column is headed. Instead, our subject is longer term, the issues of this case that are most likely to have a future impact, rather than fade into yesterday's headlines. There are at least four aspects of this situation that are far from being closed books.

The first is the most positive: the incredible outpouring of support for Sheldon Kennedy, and the resolve to lessen the chances of this happening again. Sheldon Kennedy has gotten encouragement from the players on his team, his opponents, his former Junior teammates, the management of the Bruins and the NHL, and most of all the fans. Every time he steps on the ice, the fans in Boston, for sure, and in other cities as well, are pulling for him -- people want to see this young man's courage rewarded.

Perhaps the ultimate respect for him is being shown by his peers, who are going out of their way to treat Kennedy as just another player on the ice. They all understand what he is going through (perhaps more than we know, but more on that later), and they realize that they could just as well be the one in his skates. Some of them must wonder if they could live with the level of shame and pain that Sheldon has endured. Some must look into their own hearts and question whether they would have the courage to do what he has done. So rather than using this problem as a way to taunt Sheldon and take advantage, they are giving him the chance to prove himself as a player, free from the specter that has been haunting his life. The word from players like Mario Lemeiux and Eric Lindros supporting Sheldon have had an impact all around the league, and it has had a major impact on the fans of other teams, who are not always renowned for their compassion toward opposing players.

But the most lasting impact will be on hockey players as a whole. Young players will be more aware of their vulnerability, and they have a chance of understanding that they are not to blame for the abusive actions of adults. Older players who have lived through traumatic experiences will be more aware that they are not alone, and that they can get help without humiliation. Ex-players who stay involved with hockey will have a clearer sense of the responsibility they have to the next generation of players. A league official like Ed Chynoweth, who was President of the WHL when James was abusing Kennedy, will realize that the victim could have just as well been his son, Dean Chynoweth, also currently a Boston Bruin, instead of Kennedy, and be even more vigilant in the future.

Please don't read that as a knock on Mr. Chynoweth. Before these revelations, who would have believed it? Who wouldn't have wanted to think it was unfounded slander? Now, could anyone possibly view even the slightest accusation of this sort as less than deadly serious?

The second significant development is that there seems to be a genuine effort on the part of the controlling organizations of hockey in North America to examine the process of selecting and monitoring coaches for youth teams. Some of this had been happening prior to the James conviction, in a number of sports, such as soccer, where for several years national and local organizations have been promoting a policy called "Kidsafe." "Kidsafe" is designed to screen coaches to weed out potential problem adults. Programs like this attempt to ward off situations where an adult is run out of town for hurting kids in one state, so he moves to a neighboring state, starts again, and no one is the wiser until the damage is done (if then). If you think it can't happen, take a look at the Swift Current Broncos and the Calgary Hitmen.

The governing bodies of hockey are also examining and rethinking some of the practices that have become "hockey's way" in Juniors, allowing young players to leave home and play on remote teams under what sometimes appears to be questionable supervision, as in the case of Swift Current and the other teams coached by James.

However, there is a danger in this increased attention. Every time a PeeWee coach does something that parents don't like, the potential is there for people to scream "Graham James! Sheldon Kennedy!" as an excuse for nailing the coach. Sometimes they will be right, but with others it will be pure witch-hunt tactics. If you think that parents aren't capable of distorting the facts to get their way, regardless of the impact on the kids, well, spend some time at the rink or the ball field and listen up. They're out there in droves. Every year, a few high school coaches in just about every sport are driven out of jobs because of parents' uprisings, sometimes over issues as trivial as playing time, three separate local cases this year come to mind in southern New Hampshire alone.

In such an environment, any man who wants to coach youth hockey, and is less than hairy-backed macho, with three kids, two wives, and a mistress, had better check his liability insurance before he signs on, because the potential is there for false accusations to ruin his life, if not cost it. A man who coaches a girl's team had better have a daughter on the team, to be safe. Is that a good thing? No, but it has a good chance of becoming reality.

The third aspect is that this is a legal matter, and legal matters have a way of being continually resurrected, or perhaps exhumed is a better word. Take the OJ Simpson trials, for example. Do you honestly believe that when the current jury hands in a verdict, it will be all over? You wish. There will be appeals, custody battles, family feuds, and an endless stream of best sellers arguing that he did or didn't. We will see the same with the James case, as more players come forward, or more coaches get accused (some perhaps wrongly), or God forbid, something terrible happens to James in prison. There is great potential for ugliness here, and none of it is good for hockey.

Worse still, a few years down the road, or perhaps as soon as Graham James is eligible for parole, there will be apologists for James blaming the victim, or casting doubt on the veracity of Kennedy's story. For that matter, imagine the hue and cry if James is ever paroled, let alone if he makes it out after only 14 months.

The fourth aspect is that while life goes on, this kind of scandal has a way of developing a life of its own. Again, using the Simpson situation as an example, we are seeing the OJ cottage industry keep chugging along, turning out tee shirts, masks, David Letterman jokes, and topless tabloid photos of any woman Simpson so much as winks at. OJ is both a public pariah and a symbol of domestic violence, regardless of the court verdicts, and those images will not fade away peacefully.

Similarly, Kennedy is still pursuing a career as an NHL player, and Mr. James is beginning a new life behind bars. Both of these men will remain under the microscope, at least in Canada. If additional players come forward, James will face further vilification if not increased physical danger in prison. Every time there is another similar case, James and Kennedy will get dragged out of the news archives and be put through the whole thing again.

Kennedy will remain under scrutiny for his entire career. His claim that his earlier problems with alcohol and drugs were the result of the damage done by James will wear thin if his career is derailed by a further series of the self-destructive incidents he went through in Detroit and Calgary. What is viewed now as a badge of courage could be seen as a crutch if it is used as an excuse for every misstep. Sheldon has a better than even chance to straighten out his life and his career, with the help of friends and family. But the vultures will be waiting.

Fortunately, this case has not been reduced to a laughing matter or marketing travesty. We have been spared the late-night TV jokes and the bloodsucking opportunists. Most hockey people are too sensitive to the issue to make light of it. Thank the patron saint of hockey that the Kennedy matter hasn't come to this, in part because it happened in the Northland rather than in an L.A. suburb. At least the hockey world has been spared the kind of Hollywood media circus that followed Mark Furman, Johnny Cochran, and Judge Ito. So far.


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Masterton Finalists Announced
NHL Daily Report by Zippy, Wonder Chimp


Tony Granato of the San Jose Sharks, Sheldon Kennedy of the Boston Bruins and Joe Mullen of the Pittsburgh Penguins have been named as the finalists for the Masterton Trophy by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually to the player who displays perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.

Tony Granato, who had brain surgery in February of 1996, made a remarkable recovery and returned to the NHL six months later after signing as a free agent with the San Jose Sharks.

Sheldon Kennedy missed the first two months of the season after confronting years of sexual abuse he suffered from former junior coach Graham Jones. Kennedy has made his story public, hoping his experience will give others courage to confront similar abuses. In addition, he has started a foundation to help abused children.

"Slippery Rock" Joe became the first American-born player to score 500 career goals and announced that he is now entering retirement after a 16-year NHL career. Mullen had serious knee injuries in 1983 and 1991, and he has twice had surgery in the past six years to repair herniated discs in his neck. Following surgery Mullen even wore those cool horse collars to protect his neck.

The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in Toronto on June 19th. Last year's winner was LCS hero Gary Roberts of the Calgary Flames, who retired in 1996.

(I believe the winner in 1997 was Tony Granato, for those of you who are wondering)

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