August 2, 2015


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Fleury: Graham James case was very stressful but didn't bring on a relapse

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

The former Calgary Flame, who has struggled with substance addiction, had written a blog post on Thursday saying the past few weeks have been much tougher than he anticipated.

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy speaks with reporters in Winnipeg on Feb. 22, 2012. Fleury says the sentencing of the former coach who sexually abused him as a teenager pushed him to the edge as he was forced to see the face of the man everywhere. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy speaks with reporters in Winnipeg on Feb. 22, 2012. Fleury says the sentencing of the former coach who sexually abused him as a teenager pushed him to the edge as he was forced to see the face of the man everywhere. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan

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 did not attend the lengthy sentencing hearing in which James apologized to everyone from the Canadian hockey community to his victims last month.

He also wasn't in the courtroom when James learned his fate — a sentence which sparked national outrage — but posted a statement on his website with his cousin calling the sentence "nothing short of a national travesty."

James previously served about 18 months of a 3 1/2 year-sentence in 1997 for molesting former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy and two other players before he got out of jail in 2000 and dropped out of public view.

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