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Theo Fleury files criminal complaint against junior hockey coach Graham James

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

WINNIPEG - Former NHL star Theo Fleury announced on his website Thursday that he has filed a criminal complaint against his former junior hockey coach Graham James.

Fleury recently alleged in his autobiography that James repeatedly sexually abused him when he was a young player.

"I sought out some good advice from my lawyers and advisors on how to go about dealing with Graham James," Fleury wrote on his website. "I have been reflecting on this a long time.

"I wanted to make the biggest impact on preventing this kind of thing from happening in the future. I have been under fire by certain members of the press, but I have to handle this matter to best serve the community and my family."

Fleury said no charges have yet been laid and the Winnipeg police force is still investigating the matter.

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

James pleaded guilty in 1997 to repeatedly sexually assaulting two teenage players between 1984 and 1995.

James was arrested after Sheldon Kennedy, then an NHL player, came forward with allegations of abuse while playing for him in junior.

James was eventually convicted in 1997 of abusing Kennedy and one other unnamed player and received three-and-a-half years jail.

In his book "Playing With Fire," Fleury said the sexual abuse he suffered as a teenager transformed him from a confused young man into an angry, self-loathing boozer who blew millions of dollars on cards, drugs and lap dancers.

Fleury, born in Oxbow, Sask., but raised in Russell, Man., played more than a thousand games in the NHL for the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks before drugs and alcohol problems forced him out.

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 abuse him on the road - masturbating him or performing oral sex - warning him that disclosure would destroy any hope of him playing pro hockey.

He alleged James took him and future NHLer Sheldon Kennedy with him on a road trip to Disneyland, where he said 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.

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