Former junior coach Graham James, convicted of sexual assaults against players, granted day parole

Former coach Graham James, who has spent several years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting former players, has been granted day parole by the National Parole Board in Laval, Que.

Graham James has been granted day parole by the Canadian federal parole board after appearing before the board in Laval, Que., Monday.

James, 63, has spent roughly the past four years incarcerated after pleading guilty to the sexual assaults of former players he coached, including longtime Calgary Flame Theo Fleury. The assaults against Fleury began in 1984, and James also pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Todd Holt beginning in 1989.

James was originally sentenced to two years in prison for the assaults of Fleury and Holt, but had three years added to his sentence when it was ruled James’ initial sentencing put too much emphasis on his prior conviction and subsequent three and a half years in prison. James’ 1997 conviction stemmed from charges brought against him by former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy and two other players. Kennedy was coached by James from 1986 to 1989 while with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos.

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In June 2015, James had two additional years added onto his five-year sentence after more charges were brought against him by another former player who James had assaulted while coaching the Broncos. James pleaded guilty and the two years were added onto the five-year term.

The conditions of James’ parole include a ban on contact with those under 18 and contact of any kind, direct or indirect, with any of his victims. A caseworker must know of all relationships, potential or otherwise. Per Correctional Services of Canada, day parole “provides offenders with the opportunity to participate in on-going community-based activities. Ordinarily, the offender resides at a correctional institution or community residence.”

James was seeking full parole but was given only day parole, as the National Parole Board said it would be “premature” to give James full parole and he “needs to show more empathy,” according to The Canadian Press.