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Former junior hockey coach Graham James will get bail

A judge says he will grant bail to disgraced former junior hockey coach Graham James who faces new sex charges in Winnipeg. But final conditions for his release wont be set until Dec. 17 and James is to remain in jail until then. James is shown in Toronto, June 8, 1989.

Bill Becker

A judge says he will grant bail to disgraced former junior hockey coach Graham James, who faces new sex charges in Winnipeg.

Final conditions for his release were discussed but won't be set until next week and James is to remain in jail until then.

James faces nine charges stemming from alleged encounters between 1979 and 1994 involving three boys, one of them Theo Fleury who became a National Hockey League star.

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James, who is 58, served more than a year in jail in the late 1990s for assaulting three young hockey players, including NHLer Sheldon Kennedy.

He was intially convicted of assaulting Kennedy and another junior player; then about a year later he was convicted of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1971.

James was pardoned and moved to Mexico, but he returned to Canada after Winnipeg police issued a warrant on the new charges in October.

Fleury, who lives in Calgary, was disappointed at the news James would be released on bail.

"Am I surprised? No, not really," he added.

"We pride ourselves on being one of the safest countries in the world and a decision like the one that was made today doesn't really say a lot, make a statement that we're protecting our children, because we're not."

This was the second part of a bail hearing that began last week. James was present for both, sitting in the prisoner's dock in what appeared to be the same baggy grey sweatshirt and pants.

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The once hefty former junior hockey coach has lost a lot of weight and his thinning grey hair is now cropped short.

A publication ban was imposed on most of what was said during the bail hearing, but the ban is not expected to apply to the eventual bail conditions.

The tiny courtroom was packed with reporters, as it was last week, but few members of the public have attended the bail hearings.

With bail conditions not fixed by provincial Judge Rocky Pollack, neither Crown counsel Colleen Cuff nor defence lawyer Evan Roitenberg would comment.

The Crown had opposed granting bail.

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