Gordon Stuckless will face angry victims and an uphill battle against the legal system when his lawyer seeks to end the house arrest imposed on one of Canada’s most notorious sex offenders.
Fifteen years after he pleaded guilty to molesting dozens of boys, Mr. Stuckless faces a slew of new accusers and 72 criminal charges. In late June, Ari Goldkind confirmed that he is prepared to fight Mr. Stuckless’s bail conditions in the coming weeks.
Mr. Stuckless is under house arrest and did not appear at court on June 27. On the steps of the Old City Hall courthouse, Mr. Goldkind said his client has lived a “magically law-abiding life” since he was released from jail in 2001.
“You only put people on house arrest who are a risk now,” Mr. Goldkind said, emphasizing the last word. “If there was a whisper in the last 13 years that Mr. Stuckless had done anything, you would know it, period, end of story.”
Over the past year, 17 men have claimed that they were abused decades ago by Mr. Stuckless, the man at the centre of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex scandal. Mr. Stuckless, now 64, has been arrested five times in 2013 to face new charges, most recently on June 25 by York Regional Police. All the charges have been combined into one case.
The inappropriate contact is alleged to have occurred from the 1960s through to the 1980s at schools and sports leagues north of Toronto. In 1997, Mr. Stuckless was convicted of sexually assaulting 24 boys while he was employed as an usher at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Released on $1,000 bail in late March, Mr. Stuckless cannot access the Internet or leave his home without his brother.
Despite a presumption of innocence in the justice system, Toronto law professor Kent Roach said stricter bail is increasingly typical in cases that involve sex offenders.
While Mr. Stuckless’s past behaviour could persuade a court he is unlikely to flee, judges weigh public safety heavily in cases that involve children “to maintain confidence in the justice system,” according to Mr. Roach.
The suggestion of lifting Mr. Stuckless’s house arrest brought a swift, indignant reaction from one of his victims.
Fifteen years ago, Carey Durant told his story of sexual abuse at the hands of Mr. Stuckless in the court case that led to the sexual-assault conviction.
Today, he can hardly believe the man who once lured him with Maple Leafs tickets and souvenirs could be virtually free of bail conditions.
“That’s just ridiculous that they would think of lifting house arrest,” Mr. Durant said. “How is he not in jail right now? How many lives has he ruined?”
Mr. Durant said the current house arrest is already too lax considering the interaction he had with Mr. Stuckless at a Scarborough No Frills grocery store earlier this month.
He said he spotted Mr. Stuckless from behind and walked down the aisle to confront him.
Mr. Durant asked his old tormentor if he remembered him. When Mr. Stuckless shook his head, Mr. Durant reminded him.
“You’re a piece of garbage and you’re going back to jail,” Mr. Durant recalls saying.
“This guy has taken our lives from us in so many respects, and yet here he is walking around the grocery store with the same freedoms as us,” Mr. Durant said. “That’s not justice.”
Mr. Stuckless’s case will return to court on Aug. 8.