Graham James comes out of hiding

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:51 AM ET

CALGARY -- It must have been the best-kept secret since the disturbing behind-the-scenes criminal activity during his days as a junior hockey coach.

CBC's The Fifth Estate and The National will air an interview with convicted sexual predator Graham James Wednesday as part of an investigative piece.

The exact nature of the story is still under wraps, but a CBC spokesman confirmed Monday the news program is preparing to run a conversation with James this week.

No promotion appeared in print or on the airwaves in advance of the surfacing of one of the most difficult to find and controversial subjects of the past couple of decades in the hockey world.

It was a tweet from former Calgary Flames star Theoren Fleury before hopping on a plane Monday night that captured the attention of his online followers and Calgary media.

Reached later Monday night upon his arrival home from Hamilton, Fleury said he had no clue what James will say, or why he chose to come out of hiding to speak publicly for the first time since Fleury's book Playing with Fire came out as a starting point to a new complaint of abuse being filed by Fleury himself.

"I have no idea (what he'll say). I'm just curious like everybody else in Canada," said Fleury, who was coached by James as a young teenager playing junior hockey for the Winnipeg Warriors — a WHL franchise that later moved to Moose Jaw. "Who knows?"

Considering the Winnipeg Police are still investigating Fleury's claims of abuse filed earlier this year, it might be considered a risk for James to re-enter the spotlight.

However, the interview was reportedly not done in Canada.

James was last known to be coaching hockey in Spain in 2001.

Fleury's only guess as to James' motivation is that he might be in need of money.

Convicted in 1997 of sexual assault after Warriors player Sheldon Kennedy came forward, James served jail time and was banned for life from coaching by the Canadian Hockey Association.

He surfaced in Spain, but the now 58-year-old James has been out of the public spotlight for years.

Fleury will watch the interview like many households across the country, but he's more interested in Tuesday's proceedings on Capital Hill in Ottawa, where legislation will be introduced on preventing predators like James from ever being pardoned. James received a pardon three years ago, a fact that only came to light after Fleury's book was released in the fall.

"I'm doing fine. I wanted the book to have the biggest impact, and it is," Fleury said. "What's happening tomorrow is big — huge — because sexual abuse is the biggest epidemic we have on the planet and for years nobody's done anything about it. We've always swept it under the rug.

"Tomorrow, as they say, we have our day in court. It's perfect."

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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