A question with no satisfying answer: What to do with sex offender Graham James?
Former junior hockey coach granted full parole, but his illicit desires remain
Graham James has left a trail of broken souls in his wake.
Some have put themselves back together, some are working on it; all of them bear the scars of his unforgivable sexual abuse.
For years in the '80s and '90s, James used hockey rinks as his hunting ground, luring and sexually abusing some of the teenaged boys who had the talent and drive to win a spot on his junior hockey league teams.
He had a reputation as a stalwart coach trusted by community, families and players alike, and he used that standing in the most damaging ways.
Now James has been granted full parole, a hair's breadth from complete freedom, which will be his when he completes his sentence in 2019, assuming he stays on the straight and narrow.
No satisfying answer
Yet he admits he's still plagued by the same disturbing affliction — a sexual attraction to boys.
He told a parole board earlier this year, "I don't think I can change attraction, but what I can change is my behaviour."
So the question for which there can never be a truly satisfying answer: What to do with Graham James?
When his sentence ends, those attractions aren't likely to miraculously disappear.
It will be up to Graham James to keep himself out of temptation and to not act on his desires.
'I hope he doesn't reoffend , but I'm not convinced he won't' - Sheldon Kennedy
Sheldon Kennedy, the first of James's victims to publicly reveal the abuse he suffered, is skeptical.
"I hope he doesn't reoffend, but I'm not convinced he won't," Kennedy said in an interview with CBC News.
The former NHL player turned child advocate is a believer in second chances.
He isn't convinced his former coach is truly rehabilitated.
"The rehabilitation isn't ten sessions and say the right thing and away you go," Kennedy said.
Former NHL player Theoren Fleury, also a survivor of James's abuse, was incredulous to learn the repeat offender had been granted full parole.
"How is this possible?" Fleury asked in a statement. "With this judgment, we are now as always to continue to focus on the path of healing and forgiveness. If you are looking for closure from the justice system, this in many cases will never happen."
It's one thing for a thief or a drug offender to serve their sentence and go on to live a fully rehabilitated life. It's quite another for a sexual offender, particularly one who still fantasizes about boys, to be granted freedom.
Deficiency in the system
"I was looking at his history and it was like one after the other after the other," Aubry said of James's offences. "Why hasn't this man been pursued as a dangerous offender?"
A dangerous offender designation would carry an indefinite prison sentence.
The answer is simple and, to many, frustrating: Graham James doesn't meet the criteria.
As far as anyone knows, he hasn't reoffended in many years.
His sexual abuse, the magnitude of which should never be diminished, happened during the 1980s and 1990s.
Technically, his crimes are history, even if his victims continue to suffer.
Up to James
So Graham James, with his abhorrent criminal past and his disturbing desires, will be given another chance.
To keep it, he must stay away from minors and his victims, and check in with his parole officer for a few years.
James has apparently expressed the right amount of contrition and now claims a deeper understanding of the damage he's caused.
If that remorse is genuine, all we can do now is hope it's enough to keep him from acting on his impulses.
Ultimately, what happens to Graham James will be pretty much up to Graham James.