While former Calgary Flames player Theo Fleury wants to sit down face-to-face with Graham James, the first victim to come forward in the sex abuse scandal, Sheldon Kennedy, said he has no plans to do the same.
The former NHLer reacted Wednesday to news Fleury plans to meet with James for a documentary he’s shooting via the restorative justice program.
“I don’t feel that a restorative justice type of meeting with Graham James for my recovery would be beneficial,” Kennedy told Global News.
Fleury revealed Tuesday the idea of the meeting came up during planning for a documentary he’s currently in the process of filming.
“We thought, ‘Geez, it would be kind of neat to do a one-on-one,’” Fleury said.
The board said after reviewing his file, members agreed there should be a change so James could participate “in the event that the victims would like to take part.”
LISTEN: Theo Fleury explains why he’d sit down with abuser Graham James
James was given his first prison sentence in 1997 after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting Kennedy and two other boys.
Kennedy was sexually abused as a teenager when he was playing for the Swift Current Broncos.
Several years later, Fleury and two other victims came forward. 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 Fleury.
James, 64, has been out on full parole since September 2016, just months into his seven-year prison sentence for three counts of sexual assault.
“Graham James had a chance to be honest in my trial about whether there were other victims and he denied that there were any other victims,” Kennedy said.
He said James lied again during the second trial.
“He denied that there were other victims again, and we know that there are,” Kennedy said.
“There are other victims that are struggling today that can’t find a way to come forward.”
Kennedy acknowledges the meeting could be beneficial for other people James has victimized, as everyone has a different way of dealing with trauma.
“It would be very difficult for me to believe anything that Graham James had to say, and also I have no desire to meet with Graham, but that’s the way I feel.”
READ MORE: A timeline of Graham James’s legal history
Kennedy added he has concerns about using a meeting with James in a documentary.
“I have concerns that by giving Graham James the power to try and convince people he’s done nothing wrong, like he believes…I’m not sure that would be something that would be most beneficial,” Kennedy said.
In a July 2016 decision, the parole board stated James had shown insight into the damage he has caused.
“You state in your representations that you were indifferent to the needs of the young victims and you express shame, guilt and remorse over your offending behaviour. You acknowledge having been manipulative, self-centred and inconsiderate,” the decision said. “You state being committed to becoming a better person.”
Kennedy said he wants to keep the focus on helping those impacted by James versus giving the convicted pedophile a voice.
“We have significant concerns that other victims of Graham James may die through suicide or by addictions issues–they aren’t well,” he said.
“We’re focused on trying to save their lives.”
With files from The Canadian Press