Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fleury takes a break after tough weeks

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Former hockey star Theoren Fleury wants everyone to know he has not suffered a relapse despite the severe emotional strain from the public sentencing of his former coach, who sexually abused him as a teen.

The former NHL star, who has struggled with substance addiction, wrote a blog post on Thursday saying the past few weeks have been much tougher than he anticipated.

He initially said the stress of Graham James' legal proceedings had caused him to begin to seek comfort with people who didn't have his best interests at heart.

He later wrote a followup blog post, saying, "Let me be clear: I have not suffered a relapse."

James was sentenced last month in Winnipeg to two years in prison for hundreds of sexual assaults on two of his teenage players, Fleury and his cousin, Todd Holt.

Fleury says he is tired and hurting, like every other person who deals with childhood sexual abuse, but is focusing on his recovery.

"I'm one man in the midst of an epidemic. I thought (I) could power through it all, I cannot," he wrote in his latest blog post. "I am doing what is best for me and for my family -- I'm taking a bit of a break to continue my focus on healing, and to keep my family with me on that track."

The former NHLer said he's "not perfect" but wanted to keep all those who have supported him informed about where he's headed next.

"So stay tuned, I anticipate that within the next few months I'll be announcing the next big direction I intend to pursue," he wrote. "It's going to be exciting, and I'm going to be rested and focused!"

James pleaded guilty in December to repeatedly sexually abusing Fleury and Holt when they played for him in the Western Hockey League in the 1980s and '90s. Fleury didn't attend James' sentencing hearing and sentencing.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 7, 2012 A19

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