Graham James will co-operate: lawyer

The lawyer for convicted sex offender Graham James, wanted on a Canada-wide warrant issued last week, says the former junior hockey coach remains committed to addressing nine new charges.

The lawyer for convicted sex offender Graham James says the former junior hockey coach remains committed to addressing nine new charges more than a week after authorities issued a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.

James, whose last known address was in Guadalajara, Mexico, has not surfaced since Winnipeg police filed sex charges based on allegations from three new complainants.

"Mr. James, as indicated before, has been and continues to be wanting to be co-operative with authorities — and will be," his lawyer Evan Roitenberg told The Canadian Press in an interview Friday.

Roitenberg says talks are underway "and, as far as I'm aware, matters are where they should be right now. I am having discussions with authorities that I need to have and that they need to be having with me."

The lawyer would not comment on James's whereabouts. Nor would he suggest a time frame for when his client would address the new charges.

"Do I have any sense [of the timing]? Yes. Am I about to discuss it further? No," said Roitenberg.

No comment on extradition

Since the warrant was issued Oct. 13, police, the Manitoba prosecution service and federal officials have refused to comment on any aspect of the James case, including the possibility of extraditing him from Mexico.

James pleaded guilty in 1997 to hundreds of sexual assaults on two teenaged hockey players under his influence, including former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy. He was sentenced to 3½ years in prison and was granted a controversial pardon in 2007.

Last year, former NHL star Theoren Fleury published a tell-all autobiography that alleged James also abused him, starting at age 14.

According to charges filed in Winnipeg last week, two other complainants have come forward with claims of abuse.

Legal experts say James is likely being advised to turn himself in, rather than force an extradition.

"Obviously, if you want to make a bail application, the fact that you have returned and waived your right to be extradited ... you have a better chance to get bail," said Karen Molle, a former Manitoba prosecutor who specializes in extradition cases as a criminal defence lawyer in Calgary.

"I would anticipate that Mr. James will be back in Canada very quickly and he'll turn himself in by appointment to the appropriate authorities."

If he doesn't, the International Assistance Group in the federal Department of Justice in Ottawa, acting on a request from Manitoba, could ask Mexico for extradition.

Other provisions of the Canada-Mexico extradition treaty could allow for a provisional arrest, even before the extradition process is finished, Molle said.

"If there was some belief that someone in Mexico was wanted in Canada and might go underground, so to speak, they could resort to that provision and have him picked up very quickly before all of the formal extradition papers have been completed."

Molle said she knows Roitenberg and would expect the Winnipeg lawyer to do what he can to produce his client.

"The reality is the Winnipeg Remand Centre is going to be a lot nicer than any facility where they might hold you [in Mexico]."