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Former junior coach James sentenced to two years

NHL.com @NHL
Former junior hockey coach Graham James on Tuesday was sentenced in a Winnipeg courtroom to two years in prison for two counts of sexual assault.

James, 59, had pleaded guilty in December to sexually assaulting former NHL player Theo Fleury and Fleury's cousin, Todd Holt, while coaching them in the 1980s and '90s.

Provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson said no sentence she imposed could give back to Holt and Fleury what was taken by James.

She added the courage shown by Fleury and Holt should be given "tremendous respect."

"What happened to Mr. Fleury and Mr. Holt is every child's worst nightmare," Carlson said.

However, both men were unhappy with the sentence.

Fleury and Holt released a joint statement on Fleury's website: "This sentence today is nothing short of a national travesty because we know that childhood sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions in our country. Graham James once again perpetrated his crime and spread his sickness right through the courts of Canada. He conned the judge with his 'poor me' and 'I regret' statements. His lawyer defended the indefensible, and he's been rewarded for doing so and Graham James is laughing all the way back to the life he's always led knowing that justice for him is but a blip on the radar."

Fleury did not attend the sentencing; Holt did, and at a news conference after the sentencing, said: "I believe that Graham James will offend again and I truly believe Graham James will never be rehabilitated."

In making her ruling, the judge pointed to James' expressions of remorse, and that he did not fight extradition from Mexico, where he had been living.

This is the second time James has been convicted for sexual assault on a minor. In 1997, he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing another former NHL player, Sheldon Kennedy. James served just 18 months of a 3.5-year sentence and was released from jail in 2000.

The Crown had been seeking a six-year prison sentence, while James' attorney had asked for a conditional sentence of up to 18 months, with no jail time.
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