Saskatchewan

Graham James, former hockey coach, gets another 2 years for sexual assault

Offences took place in 1990-91, court in Swift Current, Sask., hears

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Graham James keeps his face covered in 2012 prior to a court appearance in Winnipeg. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

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The sixth victim of sexual assault by Graham James speaks to reporters following the former hockey coach's trial Friday in Swift Current. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

Graham James, the ex-hockey coach who was convicted of molesting five of his players, has pleaded guilty to another sexual assault involving a different victim and has been sentenced to two years.

The latest case concerning the former Western Hockey League coach, who is currently in prison, was dealt with in Swift Current, Sask., Friday morning.

'He violated my trust, took away my dreams, my motivation, my spirit, my soul, my dignity.' - Sexual assault victim

James, who appeared by video link from a federal prison in Laval, Que., pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a player he coached in 1990 and 1991.

The Crown and defence had jointly proposed that two years be added on to the five-year sentence that James is almost finished serving on other charges and the judge agreed.

This is the third time James, 62, has faced sex-related charges involving former players. He was about a month away from being released from prison for previous sex assault convictions.

"I apologize to [the victim] and his family, to the Broncos and the City of Swift Current," James told the court during the sentencing phase of the proceedings.

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Graham James, who coached the Swift Current Broncos, has now been convicted of sexually assaulting six boys.

The court heard from the Crown prosecutor on the case that James had used his position, and stature, as a coach to abuse the player.

"[The victim] felt he had no choice," the prosecutor said. "James had his hockey career in his hands. His dream would be crushed."

In a victim impact statement, the court heard about the profound effect the abuse in his teen years had on the man who noted that James shattered his dreams, trust and dignity. He said he lived in shame and there were days when he couldn't get out of bed.

"Graham James did this to me," he said in the statement. "He violated my trust, took away my dreams, my motivation, my spirit, my soul, my dignity."

Todd Holt and Sheldon Kennedy, who were abused by James when they played for him, appeared at the courthouse Friday to support the latest victim, who has not been named.

After the sentencing, Kennedy spoke about the importance of being in Swift Current on Friday.

"We needed to be here to show up for one another and just be present. Not having to say any words, just to be present and also to show society that this issue is of huge importance," he said.

The victim also spoke, after sentencing, and said he is receiving therapy to rebuild his life, to put "my tormentor, my demon [Graham James]" behind him.

The sexual assault case that was before the court on Friday relates to a player who came forward with allegations after being encouraged to speak up by Holt.

"Graham got 20 years of my life," Holt said, prior to the proceedings. "You know what? I want my life back and that's why I started this journey and ultimately my friend started too, so we can get those lives back."

RCMP announced the latest charge against James on May 25. They said they received a complaint about James on Sept. 27, 2013, alleging sexual assaults that took place between 1990 and 1991 when James was a coach for the Swift Current Broncos.

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