Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fleury pursuing criminal charges against former coach

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FORMER NHL star Theoren Fleury has filed a complaint with the Winnipeg Police Service, alleging his former coach, Graham James, sexually abused him when he was a young teen.

"I sought out some good advice from my lawyers and advisers on how to go about dealing with James for abusing me when I was a kid," Fleury stated in a message he posted on his official website late Thursday.

Fleury was urged by thousands of people to go to the police when he made an allegation in the tell-all book he released last fall, Playing With Fire, that James had molested him when he was a 14-year-old playing for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

James was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison in 1997 after he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing former National Hockey League player Sheldon Kennedy and an unnamed player.

Kennedy and Fleury were teammates on the Warriors.

Fleury had long been suspected of being one of James's young victims and some had speculated he was the unnamed minor.

But the book alleges Fleury was a third victim.

"I wanted to make the biggest impact on preventing this kind of thing from happening in the future," Fleury said.

"I went to the City of Winnipeg police and filed a complaint last week, and I am now advised their investigation is proceeding. However, no charges have yet been laid.

"Until the investigation is fully complete, I have been instructed to have no further conversations with the press that may jeopardize this police investigation."

In the book, Fleury talked about being recruited at 13 to play for James -- first in Winnipeg, then in Moose Jaw, Sask.

He wrote that James would visit and sexually abuse him on the road, warning disclosure would destroy any hope of Fleury playing professional hockey.

Fleury alleged James took him and Kennedy on a road trip to Disneyland, where James would take turns molesting them in motel rooms.

Fleury said he submitted to the abuse because he didn't know who would believe him or whether hockey officials would circle the wagons to protect James.

James could not be reached for comment.


-- Staff, The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2010 A3

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