I’m sorry for how you will feel after reading this

The Graham James story examined

Mike Davies — The Omega (Thompson Rivers University)

KAMLOOPS, B.C. (CUP) — On March 20, Graham James was sentenced for his guilty plea — filed in December — for numerous and repeated sexual assaults against children.

I will repeat this, just so there’s no confusion about the actual facts. James pleaded guilty to numerous and repeated sexual assaults against children.

Still reading? Not disgusted enough yet? I’ll try harder — not that I’ll have to.

He received a sentence of two years per victim, to be served concurrently, and his name and DNA will be added to the national sex-offender database.

Todd Holt, one of James’ victims, spoke at a press conference after the sentencing hearing, bravely fighting back tears and answering questions from those gathered.

“My life can go on today,” he said, acknowledging that, “I don’t think there’s a sentence out there that’s suitable for this type of abuse, for any type of abuse.” He is attempting to be done with anger, although when asked about his feelings regarding James’ rehabilitation, he replied, “I believe in my heart that Graham James will offend again,” and referred a point in the hearing when James’ made the admission that “he still prefers young men.”

It’s a long-standing preference: James pleaded guilty in 2007 to sexually assaulting a child and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail. While serving that sentence, he was charged and pleaded guilty to another sexual assault on a 14-year-old boy, which occurred in 1971. The sentence for that charge? Six months — to be served concurrently with his previous sentence.

He was released after serving a total of 18 months and issued a lifetime ban from coaching in Canada by the Canadian Hockey Association.

Did you just puke a little?

Are you revolted because James was these children’s hockey coach, in parts of Canada where hockey is very seriously considered a way out, and these children’s hopes and dreams for the future were tied directly to the sport in which James was their leader, mentor and role model?

Are you appalled that he served a mere 18 months in jail for sexually abusing children?

Or are you disgusted because so much time passed between the atrocities and the public being made aware of them?

Do you suspect many other deplorable things may have happened over the years — things that no one besides the victims will ever know about?

There was at least one.

An anonymous victim filed a civil lawsuit against James in 2003, and the case was settled out of court.

Oh, by the way: upon being released from prison in 2000 after serving 18 months of his sentence for raping children, since he couldn’t coach hockey in Canada, he went to Spain. He continued to coach young boys, including the country’s national team.

Are you seriously able to keep reading this? I’m having trouble writing it, but I’ll fight through it as long as you’ll stay with me.

In 2007, James applied for and was granted a pardon by the National Parole Board of Canada.

Go ahead and read that last line again. I’ll wait.

This pardon was not disclosed to the media or the public. It prompted outrage and parole reform when it came to light years later.

Even so, on March 19, the day before James’s sentence was handed down, the Canadian Press published an article that opened with the following: “A Manitoba judge says allowing cameras to broadcast the sentencing of disgraced former hockey coach Graham James for sexual abuse would turn the highly charged case into a spectacle and could violate the sex offender’s privacy.”

Oh, thank you, Judge Catherine Carlson! We’d hate to have this man’s privacy violated, wouldn’t we?

If you’ll all excuse me now, I have to go get this taste out of my mouth.

I hope you do too.