NEWS

Cameras denied for Graham James sentencing

03/19/2012 12:28 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Media outlets will not be allowed to bring TV cameras into the Graham James sentencing on Tuesday in Winnipeg.

Provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson on Monday denied a request by media outlets to bring cameras into the sentencing of the former junior hockey coach and convicted sex offender.

Carlson said the case has become one of extraordinary public interest and she understands most people will not be able to attend in person.

However, she said, bringing cameras into the courtroom raises too many concerns, such as manipulation of the video after it hits the internet and risks of re-victimizing the victims.

"The courtroom is highly-charged enough. It’s not going to become a spectacle," Carlson said, adding the coverage could bring the case to the “brink of sensationalism.”

The media has a vital role to play in a democratic society but having a camera in the courtroom "adds little to the administration of justice," she said.

Lawyers and officials with the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, CTV and Global had appeared before Carlson on Friday to make their case.

Media lawyer Bob Sokalski told Carlson that having cameras in the court is a way to allow the public to see what happens. People across Canada have a vested interest in watching the proceeding, he said.

Safety fears

James's lawyers have said he fears for his safety if pictures or reproductions of his image are widely disseminated through television, print media or the internet. A lawyer for the Manitoba government also argued against the cameras, saying they would amount to "complete voyeurism" and could threaten the safety and privacy of court staff and judges.

James is set to be sentenced on two counts of sexual assault.

He pleaded guilty in December to sexually assaulting former NHL star Theoren Fleury and Todd Holt, Fleury's younger cousin, while coaching them in the junior hockey ranks during the 1980s and early '90s.

The Crown is seeking a six-year prison term on James's latest charges.

The defence wants a conditional sentence with no jail time. A conditional sentence of 12 to 18 months would include a curfew, monitoring and counselling.

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