Graham James, the convicted sex offender and former Winnipeg junior hockey coach whose 2007 pardon caused public outrage and pushed the Canadian government to propose changes to a federal law, has been arrested.
James was met at Pearson International Airport in Toronto by members of the Winnipeg Police Service at about 6:45 a.m. ET on Wednesday. From Toronto, James was escorted to Winnipeg, where he was arrested.
Police in the Manitoba capital issued a short news release saying they had been conducting an investigation into complaints of "historic sexual assaults" against the former junior hockey coach. They added James was arrested "through mutual agreement" and "remains in custody."
No additional details will be released, they said.
A warrant for James's arrest was issued by Winnipeg police on Oct. 13 in connection to charges of sexual assault in relation to three complainants, including one from former NHL star Theoren Fleury. The other two complainants can't be named due to a publication ban.
James's lawyer, Evan Roitenberg, told CBC News his client is not happy but is willing to cooperate fully and address the charges.
"I don't think anybody facing charges that he's facing would be particularly happy with their current situation. It's not a happy event to travel for this purpose," Roitenberg said. "But Mr. James felt it important that he answer and respond appropriately and turn himself in."
Fleury welcomed the news of the arrest.
"I'm obviously pretty happy to hear he is in custody and off the streets. His arrest is one step closer to seeing justice served. I don't know what the next steps are but I trust the legal system to do what needs to be done," Fleury said.
James pleaded guilty in 1997 to hundreds of assaults on two teenage players, including former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. He was quietly pardoned three years ago, news that caused an uproar when it was revealed by The Canadian Press earlier this year.
The federal government has since said it would crack down on pardons. The Prime Minister's Office had no comment about Wednesday's arrest.
James pleaded guilty to hundreds of assaults on two teenage boys in 1997. His last known address was in Guadalajara, Mexico.
An earlier version of this story said Graham James was arrested in Toronto. In fact, James was met at Pearson International Airport in Toronto by members of the Winnipeg Police Service, but was escorted back to Winnipeg before being arrested.Oct 28, 2010 12:58 PM CT