Former junior hockey coach and convicted sex offender Graham James has been released on bail and will be living in the Montreal area until his trial on new sexual assault charges.
After two days of hearings over two weeks, Mr. James was to be in court Monday to finalize his bail conditions. But documents indicate that a justice of the peace signed off on his release late Friday afternoon.
Former Calgary Flames forward Theo Fleury, the only one of the three new complainants who can be identified, said he wasn't surprised Mr. James had been released quietly, with no public notice.
"He got a pardon and we didn't know about it, I guess it's par for the course," said Mr. Fleury, referring to the decision in 2007 to grant Mr. James a pardon on his three earlier convictions for molesting young players he coached.
Mr. Fleury noted the conditions of bail appeared fairly strict. There are 11 conditions, including that he report to police in Montreal once a week, that he not leave the country and that he not be alone with a person under 18.
When Mr. James was tracked down living in Mexico earlier this year it was reported at the time that he was believed to be working for a Montreal-based company.
The reasons for granting bail are covered under a publication ban.
Mr. James was a prominent junior hockey coach in Western Canada from the 1970s through to the 1990s.
He currently faces nine charges stemming from alleged encounters between 1979 and 1994 involving three boys, one of them Fleury.
Mr. Fleury went on to become a star in the National Hockey League and wrote about the alleged abuse in his book. He then made a complaint with police, prompting the second investigation.
Mr. James, 57, already served almost two years in jail in the late 1990s for assaulting three young hockey players, including former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy
Mr. James was initially convicted of assaulting Kennedy and another junior player. About a year later, he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1971 and got six months in jail to be served concurrently with the original sentence.
Mr. James had been pardoned by the National Parole Board and moved to Mexico, but returned to Canada after Winnipeg police issued a warrant on the new charges in October.
It isn't known when Mr. James may face a trial.
Mr. Fleury said he will attend only if required to.
"If I have to be there or I need to be there, then of course I'll be there."
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