Fleury's sex-abuse allegations under investigation

Winnipeg police say they are investigating a criminal complaint filed by former NHL star Theoren Fleury against his former junior hockey coach.

Winnipeg police say they are investigating a criminal complaint filed by former NHL star Theoren Fleury against his former junior hockey coach.

Police said they are looking into Fleury's allegations of sexual assault, which he says took place in the 1980s.

"Members of the Winnipeg Police Service Sex Crimes Unit have entered into an investigation as result of a complaint filed by Mr. Theoren Fleury," police said in a statement Friday.

"The investigation will include consultation with police agencies outside of the province and in the United States."

But police said they will not release any more information about the allegations or the investigation until it is concluded.

Fleury recently alleged in his autobiography, Playing With Fire, that former coach Graham James repeatedly sexually abused him when he was a young player.

Fleury announced on his website Thursday that he was filing a complaint against James.

"I have been reflecting on this a long time," he said on his website. "I wanted to make the biggest impact on preventing this kind of thing from happening in the future."

Fleury has declined to speak further until the investigation wraps up.

"While it's in the hands of the authorities, it's best that he doesn't talk about it," Fleury's lawyer, Hersh Wolch, said from Calgary.

"He's made a complaint with the city police and it's now in the hands of the police and, ultimately, the prosecutors."

The situation has been very tough on his client, Wolch said. Fleury doesn't know how long the investigation will take or when he will hear anything from police.

"I expect the police will work diligently and we'll hear in good course," Wolch said. "We just have to be patient and wait and let them do their jobs."

James pleaded guilty in 1997 to repeatedly sexually assaulting two teenage players between 1984 and 1995. He was arrested after Sheldon Kennedy, then an NHL player, came forward with allegations of abuse while playing for him in junior.

James was eventually convicted in 1997 of abusing Kennedy and one other unnamed player and received 3½ years in jail.

Fleury, born in Oxbow, Sask., but raised in Russell, Man., played more than1,000 games in the NHL for the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks before drugs and alcohol problems forced him out. 

He attempted an NHL comeback with the Flames last fall but was eventually cut and retired from hockey. 

In his book, Fleury talked about being recruited at 13 to play for James — first in Winnipeg, then in Moose Jaw, Sask. 

He wrote that James would visit and abuse him on the road, warning Fleury that disclosure would destroy any hope he had of playing pro hockey. 

Fleury alleged James took him and Kennedy with him on a road trip to Disneyland and took turns molesting them in motel rooms. 

Fleury said he submitted to the abuse because he didn't know who would believe him or whether hockey officials would circle the wagons to protect James.