TORONTO – Prosecutors say the man at the heart of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal should spend 12 years behind bars for the trauma he inflicted upon his young victims despite the defence’s reassurances that chemical castration has kept him in check for more than a decade.
The Crown told Gordon Stuckless’s sentencing hearing Monday that he betrayed the trust of young boys he befriended and then abused, leaving them with lifelong emotional scars.
“He targeted the most vulnerable children he could – those with alcoholic fathers, domestic abuse within the home, constant turmoil in the family home, absentee fathers, children being raised by single mothers, living in a foster home,” Crown attorney Kelly Beale said Monday.
“He made these children feel special, making them believe they needed him in their lives,” only to force sexual contact on them for his own gratification, she said.
Some of those children were as young as eight years old at the time, and some were abused as many as 75 times, Beale said – both aggravating factors she argued should be considered in sentencing.
She called Stuckless, an equipment manager at the Gardens, a “prolific serial pedophile” whose actions turned his victims into “very damaged men.”
Stuckless pleaded guilty in 2014 to 100 charges related to the sexual abuse of 18 boys decades ago. He was later found guilty of two additional charges of gross indecency linked to two of the 18 victims.
Prosecutors decided earlier this year not to seek to have him designated a dangerous or long-term offender.
Beale said his history of sexual abuse should nonetheless be considered “extremely aggravating.”
“There is no other offender known in Canadian law that parallels Gordon Stuckless’s crimes,” she said in her submissions.
Stuckless’s lawyer, Ari Goldkind, is set to make his submissions on sentencing Tuesday. He told the court Monday that his client is undergoing chemical castration, which he considers one of the most effective treatments for pedophiles who have acted on their urges.
He has also previously said outside court that Stuckless has not re-offended since his release in the early 2000s, which is when he began the treatment.
But the Crown argued Stuckless “continues with deceit to this day” with constant contradictions in his statements to the court and in his psychiatric assessment, and shouldn’t be trusted to keep up the treatment.
Stuckless, who is currently under house arrest, had the conditions of his bail modified earlier Monday after the Crown noticed he had been violating one of the provisions.
Under the terms of his bail, Stuckless cannot leave his home unless accompanied by his brother, who is acting as surety.
But Beale pointed out Monday that he has been appearing in court without his brother.
Court heard Stuckless was advised by his lawyer that he would not be breaching his bail conditions by doing so, but Ontario Court Justice Mara Greene said that was “wrong.”
As a result, the conditions have been changed to allow Stuckless to travel to court without his brother, who court heard is in poor health.
Stuckless previously pleaded guilty in 1997 for sex assaults on 24 boys while he worked at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens between 1969 and 1988.
He was sentenced to two years less a day in that case, but that was later increased to five years. He was paroled in 2001 after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
Court heard Monday that he was also convicted of sexual offences against boys on two other occasions, for a total of 51 victims over all four cases.