ALBERTA

Graham James Pleads Guilty Again; Tells Player He's Sorry

06/19/2015 12:12 EDT | Updated 06/19/2016 05:59 EDT
SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. - Convicted sex offender Graham James pleaded guilty Friday to more charges involving a player who described the former junior hockey coach as his tormentor and his demon.

Justice Tim Keene accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence that called for two years to be added onto the five-year sentence James is almost finished serving on other charges.

The 62-year-old appeared in a Saskatchewan courtroom via video link from a prison in Quebec to enter his plea.

The victim, who was 18 at the time and whose name is under a court-ordered publication ban, said he could no longer live with the "shame, humiliation and lies" and was able to come forward with the support of his wife.

The man, who is now 43, was too emotional to give his victim impact statement to the court, so Queen's Bench Justice Tim Keene read it for him.

"I suffered in silence," the victim wrote of the abuse he experienced while playing for James with the Western Hockey League's Swift Current Broncos.

"He violated my trust. He took away my dream."

Prosecutor Glen Herman told the judge that James worked to build the victim's trust and "groomed him" to take part in the abuse.

Herman said sexual contact started out with touching while clothed and progressed to the victim being naked. The prosecutor said the encounters occurred twice a week.

James confided to the player that he was gay, said Herman, who added the coach told his player that taking part wouldn't make him gay also, but would just be "helping out a friend."

The player "felt he had no choice but to participate in these activities" because James could "crush" his hockey career, Herman said.

James apologized to the player, the team, the people he worked with and the community of Swift Current.

"Personal weakness kept me from giving what I owed to all of them — my full attention to their aspirations."

Defence lawyer Robert Skinner said his client "is remorseful and very, very sorry this has happened."

Skinner said James did very well as a hockey coach and was against violence. "Unfortunately things went very, very wrong."

It is the third time James has faced sex charges involving players he coached.

Two of those players, Todd Holt and Sheldon Kennedy, were in the Swift Current courtroom to support the latest victim.

James served 3 1/2 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in 1997 to sex offences against Kennedy and two others. Kennedy played for the Broncos at the time of the assaults and went on to play in the National Hockey League.

James sought and received a pardon for those offences in 2007, but he was back in court a few years later when Holt and his cousin, retired Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury, came forward with a new set of allegations.

James pleaded guilty and was initially sentenced to two years in 2012. An Appeal Court increased the sentence to five years, and although he has been eligible for full parole, James has never made an application.

The new charges were laid last month following an investigation that began after the RCMP received a complaint in September 2013.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Also on HuffPost

How To Recognize Child Abuse