Watch video: Gordon Stuckless pleads guilty to 100 of 108 charges. Mark Carcasole reports.
WARNING: CONTENTS MAY DISTURB SOME READERS.
TORONTO – For decades, Gordon Stuckless preyed on young boys he met in schools, community centres and sports teams, luring them with hockey sticks and movie tickets until he gained their trust, a Toronto court heard Tuesday.
The man at the centre of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal pleaded guilty Tuesday to 100 charges stemming from the sexual abuse of 18 underage victims between 1965 and 1985.
Stuckless, 65, “positioned himself to have constant access to children,” according to an agreed statement of facts read in court.
A volunteer coach and assistant teacher who also worked at the famed Toronto arena, Stuckless had “enormous power, authority and control” over his young charges, the statement said.
“He would groom and coerce the children. They became eager to please him. (…) He would tell them that what they were doing was ‘normal’ and ‘fine.”‘
Stuckless had a clear pattern, said his lawyer Ari Goldkind.
Sometimes, he would perform oral sex on them or force them to do it to him, the statement said.
In one case, Stuckless grew close to a boy’s family and slept in their basement at least once a week. He would masturbate while fondling the boy up to five times a day and would perform oral sex on him, the document said.
“Stuckless would routinely wake (the boy) from his sleep to perform sexual acts on him while he laid in bed, in between two older boys, who remained asleep,” it said.
Most of his victims were around 11 or 12 years old, though some were as young as six, it said. One has since died.
One victim, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, said it was his first time seeing his abuser in person since going through the horrific ordeal in the early 1970s.
The man said he hoped hearing Stuckless admit to the suffering he inflicted on his targets would provide some closure.
“I hope he never gets out (from behind bars),” the man said. “I never want to hear his name or see his face again.”
Stuckless admitted to indecent assault, sexual assault and gross indecency, though Goldkind said his client does not remember the names of his victims or specific incidents laid out in court.
He pleaded not guilty to eight charges, including assault and buggery. Goldkind said a trial on those charges is expected to begin May 5.
Crown attorney Kelly Beale is expected to request a dangerous offender assessment for Stuckless, but Goldkind said his client, who’s on a sex offender registry, continues his chemical castration therapy and has been living “a very law-abiding life.”
“Since 2001, he is not a danger to society,” Goldkind said. “So again, if we call ourselves a lawful society, not just a vengeful society, Mr. Stuckless doesn’t come close to meeting the test for dangerous offender.”
But Allan Donnan, one of his victims in the previous case, said he wasn’t convinced, given the scope of Stuckless’s abuse.
“For 30 years, he was cold, he was calculated, he was premeditated, he thought about who, he thought about how, he thought about when,” Donnan said outside court.
“What proof does anyone have that since he came out of jail there hasn’t been a single recurrence?”
While there is no way to prove when an offence hasn’t been committed, police have been aware of Stuckless’s location and history since his release and have yet to find grounds to charge him again, Goldkind said.
The Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal first came to light in 1997, when a man named Martin Kruze came forward with allegations that he was sexually abused there from the age of eight.
Kruze testified at Stuckless’s trial that he was among the dozens of young hockey fans lured into the Gardens – former home to the Toronto Maple Leafs before they left for a new arena in 1999 – with free tickets, hockey sticks and player autographs, only to be sexually abused.
Two days after Stuckless was sentenced in 1997 for sex assaults on 24 boys while he was an usher at the Maple Leaf Gardens, Kruze committed suicide.
Kruze, who would have turned 52 Tuesday, would have been “so proud” to see Stuckless admit to what he has done, his brother, Gary Kruze, said outside court.
“This is what he wanted. He wanted to put an end to this.”
Stuckless was forced back in the spotlight last year when police announced fresh charges against him in alleged incidents dating back decades.
All charges relating to separate investigations by Toronto police and York Region police have been merged together.
York police issued a statement Tuesday saying there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault allegations.
Recap of Mark Carcasole’s live blog below: