Graham James sits during his sex abuse sentencing hearing in a Winnipeg courtroom Feb. 22, 2012.
Credits: TOM ANDRICH/For the Winnipeg Sun
After a lengthy and at times emotional morning in a Winnipeg courtroom, the Crown has yet to state what length of prison sentence it is seeking for disgraced former hockey coach and pedophile Graham James.
James appeared in Winnipeg for sentencing today in front of Provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson after previously pleading guilty to sexually abusing two players, NHL great Theo Fleury and his cousin Todd Holt, over separate periods in the 1980s and into the 90s.
A publication ban on Holt's identity was lifted in court this morning.
Crown prosecutor Colleen McDuff began her submissions by outlining alarming facts of how the victims were separately and slowly groomed by James then repeatedly sexually abused in the 80s and 90s.
James, who held a lot of power and was revered by young players in the hockey world, would make promises, buy gifts - and in Holt's case even threaten him - to enable the abuse, McDuff said.
Fleury began being abused by James as a teen in 1983, despite Fleury's initial bid to fight his coach off.
Despite being billeted with a family in Winnipeg, James ordered Fleury to stay at his home two nights a week and sleep on a cot in James' bedroom where the windows were covered, McDuff said.
Fleury estimated he was abused 150 times over a period of about two years in Winnipeg and Moose Jaw, Sask.
Fleury's home life was "dysfunctional" and not somewhere he could seek help, McDuff told court. Fleury himself told police he couldn't seek assistance at home. "There was no help there," he told them.
"One can only imagine a 15-year-old boy having to deal with this conflict. It's unimaginable," McDuff said.
Holt was abused between the ages of 15 and 20 from 1989 to about 1994 in Swift Current, Sask.
McDuff said the abuse against him at James' hands took on a "more sinister" tone than was present in other cases.
James would guilt or deride Holt until he got his way, McDuff said. In once incident, Holt says James once told him he "held (his) hockey career in his hands ... could ruin him with one phone call."
"When there was any indication of there being non-compliance, Mr. James would effectively turn on him," she said.
"What that man did to me and many others was the cruellest form of abuse," an emotional Holt told court in a victim impact statement. "I want peace and justice" along with the life he was meant to live back, Holt said.
"Those nightmares will never go away," he told Carlson.
James did not appear to come in through any of the main court entrances this morning, prompting questions of whether he's being shielded from the public for security reasons.