Former Hockey Coach Gets Prison For Sexually Abusing Boys

Graham James liked boys.

He worked with them on hockey teams. He was a coach. He sought out the kids that seemed to need a little extra attention. He lured them — and their parents — into his confidence, then he would sexually abuse them. He told them that if they told anyone, he would ruin their hockey career and they would never play again, never make it to the NHL. He’d tell everyone they were gay, tell everyone they liked it. He told them he would ruin their lives unless they accepted the abuse.

This morning, James was sentenced to two years in prison for each offense — for abusing former NHL player Theoren Fleury and his cousin Todd Holt, also a junior hockey player. The sentences will be served concurrently, meaning that under Canadian law, James will be eligible for parole in just over 7 months. Charges for a third alleged victim, Greg Gilhooly, were stayed in December under a plea bargain that saw James plead guilty to abusing Fleury and Holt. It was Gilhooly’s revelation that James’ previous convictions for abusing kids under his watch including NHL player Sheldon Kennedy had been quietly pardoned, leaving James free to leave the country where nobody knew of his crimes — free to abuse other children, should he choose to do so.  And it was this revelation that led to changes in Canadian law that will make pardons far harder to obtain, especially for perpetrators of violent crimes or sexual abuse.

But Gilhooly will never now get a day in court. And one of James’ acknowledged victims, Todd Holt, was disgusted by the two year sentence. Holt called the sentence a “national travesty,” calling justice for Graham James a mere “blip on the radar.” James has also drastically altered his appearance since last appearing in court, and even hid his face on arrival to his sentencing today — leaving him able to slip quietly back into society before the end of the year, those around him none the wiser.

Graham James abused boys for decades, boys who had big dreams of making the NHL. He was in a position of power to grant those dreams, and he used those dreams to control and intimidate these boys so that he could carry out his own sick and twisted plans. He ruined lives and devastated families. And for this, he’ll be in jail for less than a year.

Justice, or not?


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Man Abused 100 Times By Former Penn State Coach Sandusky

Photo from Thinkstock


Haleene W.
Haleene W.5 years ago

Makes one wonder about the history of the judge that sentenced (and I use the term loosely) him. That is an embarrassing amount of sympathy towards the accused.
I'll bet James was happy with the sentence. It's a joke and should be called into question.
I would have the judge investigated.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago


Paul B.
Paul B5 years ago

As a USA Hockey person and citizen I'm curious as to whether or not this is the laws themselves that limited the judge in his options to not give much more or was this judge as out of his or her mind as the defendant in this case... But clearly something has to change and change big for sure...

This kind of abuse tends to traumatize and wound a person deeply, changing them and impacting the quality of life for their entire lives... This stuff creates real PTSD, its rape plain and simple. Anyone who knows the problems and demons that Theo carried around for so many years and how it impacted his professional career knows that this man harmed his so... No less his personal life for sure.... The sentance should fit the crime...

In Hockey Canada I believe they do a regular background check on those that have "Access" to the kids just as we do in USA Hockey.... I hope that this case leads to better sharing of information between all the sactioning bodies so some creep like this madman can't skip town go across the boarder and start harming kids on the other side of our shared boarders...

Insane completely unacceptable and insane....

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal5 years ago

Just two years? Was he ever a priest in a fromer lifetime?

Lynn C.
Lynn C5 years ago

A travesty.

Lyn B.
Lyn B5 years ago

Justice??? What justice????

Chrissie Mitchell

Two years???????? I wonder what the sentence would have been if the Judge's son had been a victim?

Shannon M.
Shannon Mckarney5 years ago

James' lawyer said yesterday that James was "happy" with the sentence. I bet he was, given he'll be home by Christmas.

Tom Sullivan
Tom C Sullivan5 years ago


Holly McClenahan
Holly McClenahan5 years ago

How can so many believe it should be a longer sentence and there be a LAW that supports short sentences? Who are the people making these laws and who is voting for them? What the public wants and what the laws are aren't congruent.