Friday, May 14, 2010
Fleury will testify against James if new charges laid
Winnipeg Police Service Chief Keith McCaskill said his investigators learned only this week pardoned sex offender Graham James was living in Mexico after their probe into new allegations against him began in January.
However, McCaskill is confident officers will soon be able to speak to the disgraced former hockey coach, who ex-NHL star Theoren Fleury alleges repeatedly molested him when he was a teen. McCaskill said James is being treated by investigators in the sex crimes unit as "a person of interest."
"We believe he will be co-operative in being questioned," McCaskill said in an interview.
McCaskill was unable to say whether Winnipeg police had learned of James' whereabouts prior to a joint CBC-Globe and Mail investigation, which reported Wednesday he had been living in Guadalajara.
"We certainly are aware now," said McCaskill.
McCaskill said no Canada-wide warrant has been issued for James' arrest.
No investigators have been to Mexico yet, he said.
"Anytime you have serious allegations, we take them, obviously, very seriously and we want to make sure they're investigated as thoroughly as possible," he said.
"(With) historical sexual assaults, certainly we want to talk to the Crown and we do, and to get their perspective on moving forward."
Fleury's message to his former coach in the wake of the revelation of where James has been living and working was blunt.
In an interview with the Free Press, Fleury said he hopes James and his Winnipeg-based lawyer Evan Roitenberg will "man up" and deal with police.
Fleury said Thursday James should "face the music" and he's prepared to do "whatever it takes" to see James brought to justice, including testifying in a city courtroom against his alleged abuser should charges be laid.
In Fleury's book Playing With Fire: The Highest Highs and Lowest Lows of Theo Fleury, he says James began molesting him when he was 14 years old.
In January, Fleury told media he filed a complaint with Winnipeg police.
Police have not laid any charges against James in regards to Fleury's allegations.
"I feel very hopeful that justice will eventually be served," Fleury said Thursday from Calgary. "I would hope that Graham and his lawyer would, you know, 'man up' and, you know, take responsibility for what has happened and, you know, face the music."
Fleury urged Roitenberg to tell his client to deal with the allegations.
"Mr. James is not running from anything," said Evan Roitenberg, James' lawyer.
He said he did not want to comment extensively Thursday because he didn't want it to be perceived as "interference" in the police investigation.
"He's not fleeing from anything and isn't there hiding," he said.
Fleury said James should return to Winnipeg and speak with police about the allegations.
"I would hope that, you know, something in his brain clicks that, you know what, you know, there's that saying, you can run but you can't hide," he said.
Fleury said he isn't shocked James was located in Mexico.
"I think if he was in Canada, you would probably wonder about his safety, people taking it in their own hands," he said.
Fleury said he's in touch with Winnipeg police about once a week and he has not spoken to any other law-enforcement officials from other jurisdictions.
Fleury said if he's needed to testify at trial he'll return to the city, though he isn't eagerly anticipating the possibility of being cross-examined and "revictimized" on the stand if James is charged.
He said he hasn't seen James in over a decade.
"I'm not looking forward to having some defence lawyer rip me to shreds, but, you know, I'll do whatever it takes, like I said, to get, you know, the final result and the final closure," he said.
Fleury recently came to Winnipeg to be interviewed by officers with the sex crimes unit.
"I'm in this for the long haul," he said. "Whatever it takes."
Former junior hockey coach Graham James is convicted of sexually assaulting NHLer Sheldon Kennedy and an unidentified player and sentenced to three and half years in federal prison.
James is barred for life from coaching by the Canadian Hockey Association.
Reports surface that James is coaching young hockey players in Spain.
James is pardoned by the National Parole Board, but the news is never made public.
In his bestselling tell-all, former NHL star Theoren Fleury claims he, too, was abused by James as a 14-year-old junior player at the same time as Kennedy.
Fleury makes a formal complaint about the abuse to Winnipeg police, who open an investigation.
News of James' pardon breaks, along with news that yet another unidentified former player has come forward with allegations of abuse.
As Ottawa moves to reform the pardon system, the CBC and the Globe and Mail track James down in Mexico.