Graham James guilty pleas little comfort for Gilhooly
'I'm taking one for the team in terms of being the one who's left out,' ex-player says
Corporate lawyer and former hockey player Greg Gilhooly says he had hoped to find some closure with the guilty pleas of former coach and sexual abuser Graham James, but knows now that's unlikely.
James pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually assaulting two of the players he coached in the 1980s and early '90s — former NHL star Theoren Fleury and another player protected under a publication ban. As part of the arrangement made with Crown prosecutors in Manitoba, charges related to a case involving Gilhooly were dropped.
Crown counsel Colleen McDuff asked that two charges related to Gilhooly be stayed. She said no plea deal was struck with James, and the Crown will be asking for penitentiary time when he is sentenced. The decision to stay the charges came after consultation with Gilhooly, she said, and "having regard to the pleas that Mr. James was prepared to enter and avoid a protracted number of trials."
While Gilhooly told CBC News that as a lawyer, he would have done the same thing, he still says that as a victim, he's losing out. He also revealed he was the one who first learned James had been pardoned, leading to the most recent charges.
He added: "I'd be lying if I didn't say it was difficult, and initially I was incredibly upset …. I'm taking one for the team in terms of being the one who's left out. I'm no hero here — this is just something I have to deal with."
Gilhooly got a publication ban removed from his name so he could speak out about the abuse he says he faced. He was a talented 14-year-old goalie from Winnipeg when James approached him at a hockey tournament in 1979.
In the spring of 2010, after approaching the Winnipeg police with his allegations of sexual abuse, the Princeton University graduate with the law degree from the University of Toronto made a stunning discovery — James had been quietly pardoned in 2007 after pleading guilty in the 1990s to sex charges against two of his former players.
James's 1997 trial and sentence to more than three years in prison reopened the wounds of his own abuse, Gilhooly said. He got into therapy, but he knew he had to do more, he told CBC News.
When Fleury, a former NHL star, published a book detailing his abuse at the hands of James, Gilhooly was the one who discovered James had been granted a pardon.
"It's not as if me being involved in this process has yielded nothing to date …," he said. "[There is] the good that came from breaking that pardon story."
Gilhooly, who now lives in Oakville, Ont., says he supports the Conservative government's overhaul of the justice system so that anyone convicted of sexual offences against a minor is no longer eligible for a pardon.