Five more men have stepped forward alleging sexual abuse by one of Canada’s most notorious child molesters decades ago, and detectives believe there may still be other victims.
Gordon Stuckless, who spent years in prison for offences committed while he worked at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, was to have appeared in court at Old City Hall Friday morning in connection with a new batch of charges, laid in February.
Those charges – six counts of indecent assault on a male, assault and possession of a weapon or imitation weapon – involved two complainants.
Since then, however, five more men have spoken up, Detective Constable Roger Villaflor told reporters at a news conference where one of Mr. Stuckless’s original victims broke down in tears as he described how the sexual abuse had affected his life.
So instead of making what would have been his first court appearance over the charges laid in February, Mr. Stuckless, 64, was arrested at his home again early Friday and taken to the downtown 52 Division police station, where he was charged with 15 sex-related offences and released on an undertaking.
A new court date was set for May 3, when all seven cases will be addressed. Each involves a boy aged between 9 and 13 at the time, and all dating back to the 1960s and 1970s.
“There is no template or perfect time frame for someone to come forward with offences like this,” Det. Const. Villaflor said, referring to the long time lag.
“With the passage of time these men have grown and feel more comfortable coming forward.”
Mr. Stuckless was convicted in 1997 of multiple sex assaults on boys while he was an assistant equipment manager at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens from 1969 to 1988. He was charged in February after the two complainants alleged he sexually assaulted them several times, when they were aged 11 and 13.
He was volunteering at a Toronto community centre and sports clubs at the time.
He pleaded guilty at his 1997 trial to sexual abuse against 24 males ranging in age from 11 to 15, in a series of crimes encompassing more than 500 incidents.
He was initially sentenced to two years less a day in a provincial jail, but the sentence was appealed and extended to five years.
Mr. Stuckless was paroled from Kingston Penitentiary in 2001 after serving two-thirds of the five-year term.
His first sentence was widely criticized as being too lenient, and was said to have been instrumental in the suicide of one of his victims, Martin Kruze, who at age 34 jumped to his death off the Bloor Viaduct just three days after the sentence was imposed.
Mr. Kruze was the first victim to have stepped forward.
Two former Maple Leaf Gardens colleagues, usher John Paul Roby and equipment manager George Hannah, were also implicated in what the Crown described as a pedophile sex ring.
Mr. Roby was also convicted and died in a federal prison, but Mr. Hannah escaped prosecution, having died in 1984 before Mr. Kruze spoke up.
After Det. Const. Villaflor spoke, one of Mr. Stuckless’s 24 victims from the Maple Leaf Gardens era, 51-year-old Allan Donnan, wept as he questioned why his tormentor had been released from custody on these latest charges, and explained how hard it is for a sexual abuse victim to speak up.
That happens “when (the memory) just about kills you, when you can’t live with it any more,” he said.
“I applaud these young men for coming forward, I applaud them for their strength and courage. Every one of you needs to know… that you do have a voice.”
As for “closure,” the outlook is usually bleak, Mr. Donnan said. “There really isn’t any closure. You hope against hope is that the system will provide closure.”
But the wounds remain open because the allegations against Mr. Stuckless keep coming, he said, adding that he is not surprised. “We always knew that there were more.”
Some of the new charges also involve offences allegedly committed in York Region, Det. Const. Villaflor said, and police there are aiding the investigation.
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