Hockey

Ballard part of Gardens sex scandal?

Former Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard sexually propositioned a teenaged boy, according to recently filed court documents.

Three men, now aged 40 to 61, have come forward with more accusations against employees of the Gardens, which has been haunted by sexual abuse allegations against young boys for years.

The suit, which is against Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, is claiming $1 million in damages.

"Three gentlemen have now come forward with allegations of sex abuse at the Gardens," said Loretta Merritt, a lawyer for two of the claimants, Thursday night. "One of them is making an allegation that Harold Ballard specifically knew what was going on and, in fact, solicited him."

The three men, identified only by the initials R.H., C.H. and R.L., claim they were abused by three Gardens employees.

R.L. says he was repeated sexually abused by former Ballard employees Gordon Stuckless and John Paul Roby in the 1970s.

Roby, 58, was convicted in 1999 of sexually abusing dozens of young boys when he was an usher at the Gardens. He died last year.

Stuckless was sentenced to two years less a day in jail on Oct. 1997 after he was convicted of sexually abusing 24 boys. He was also ordered to take a drug to reduce his sex drive.

Just days after Stuckless was convicted one of his victims, Martin Kruze, leap to his death from a Toronto viaduct.

R.L. also alleges that Ballard tried to lure him into committing a sex act. R.L was thrown out of the arena when he refused.

The documents have been filed in the civil court, but it could be two years before the matter goes to court.

Even though it has been five years since the Gardens sex scandal first surfaced, Maple Leafs president Ken Dryden didn't appear surprised to hear that more people came forward with claims of abuse.

"It never comes out of left field. The history around abuse cases is that they take a long time to come forward. They come forward on their time and nobody else's," Dryden said.

Merritt said her clients didn't feel comfortable coming forward when the sex scandal first surfaced.

"They felt unable to come forward at that time. It's difficult -- there's a lot of fear and shame and embarrassment," she said.

Dryden was one of the key people involved in a drive to educate the city's children about sexual abuse.

Ballard died in 1990 after struggling for more than three months with kidney failure, a heart ailment and diabetes. He was 86.

In 1972, he spent a full year in Millhaven Penitentiary after he was convicted of fraud and theft.

with files from CP Online

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