Graham James’ case workers support disgraced hockey coach’s full parole request
Day parole has been extended for notorious sex offender and former hockey coach Graham James as he continues to seek full parole.
In a written decision obtained by Global News Friday, the Parole Board of Canada has consented to continue with his day parole for another two months in Quebec, while a hearing is scheduled for full parole.
In this latest decision the board notes the 63-year-old is seeking full parole and his case management team supports that request.
“You intend on maintaining your current job…as well as continue the volunteer work you have begun,” reads the decision.
“You have rented an apartment where you plan on living on your own. There are no financial concerns. Family members have been deemed to be positive supports.”
James admitted to a corrections psychologist in November he is still attracted to adolescent males between the ages of 15 to 25 years old. The psychologist said he believes James can continue to work on issues like loneliness, isolation, and avoidance while on full parole.
The decision notes “most of your contacts are by way of the Internet and with much younger men.”
Watch below: Graham James is granted day parole. Global’s Nancy Hixt reports Jan. 2016.
Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy was the first victim to come forward with allegations of abuse. He was sexually abused by James as a teenager.
James was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in 1997 to sex offences against Kennedy and two others, serving about 18 months before being paroled. Kennedy played for the Broncos at the time of the assaults and went on to play in the National Hockey League. James sought and received a pardon for those offences in 2007.
Kennedy told Global News Friday he’s disappointed but not surprised by the board’s decision.
“There has to be commitment and a proven commitment to change and currently there is no commitment to change by the Parole Board of Canada,” he said. “To me what it all comes down to is a lack of understanding of the true impact of this crime by the parole board.”
Kennedy predicts James will leave the country where he can operate under the radar. He has previously moved to Spain and Mexico. Kennedy also believes it’s just a matter of time before James reoffends.
“Oh absolutely, there’s no question,” Kennedy said.
James was sentenced to seven years in prison for three counts of sexual assault. Other victims were young hockey players that he coached in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.
James pleaded guilty in June 2015 to more charges involving a player who described him as his tormentor and his demon. He received a two-year sentence on top of a five-year term from 2013 that James had almost finished serving on similar charges against former player Todd Holt and his cousin, retired Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury.
James was initially sentenced to two years in 2012 before a Manitoba appeals court increased that sentence to five years.
READ MORE: A timeline of Graham James’s legal history
“I’m absolutely appalled by the decision,” Holt said Friday.
“The board is giving him his life back. I lost the prime years of my life–they were taken by him.”
Holt called Canada “a pedophile’s playground” and said decisions like this send a horrible message to other victims who are contemplating coming forward.
“Our voices are not being heard, it’s unfair,” Holt said. “He’s not going to change.”
In January, just months into his sentence, he was granted day parole.
James is ordered to continue to follow a list of conditions. He is forbidden from being in the presence of any male or female individuals under the age of 18 unless accompanied by a responsible adult who knows his criminal history and has previously been approved by his parole supervisor.
The board noted James’ tendency to “develop relationships with vulnerable young adults.”
He has been ordered to “immediately report any attempts to initiate sexual and non-sexual relationships and friendships with males to his supervisor.”
James has also been ordered to do volunteer work for a minimum six hours per week.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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