Police mum on Fleury's claims

CHRIS KITCHING, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Detectives with the Winnipeg Police Service will consult with police in Canada and the U.S. during their investigation into Theo Fleury's claims he was repeatedly sexually abused by a junior hockey coach in the 1980s.

A day after Fleury, 41, made it public, city police confirmed yesterday the sex crimes unit met with the retired NHLer last week and is investigating the widely-known allegations.

Police, however, didn't disclose any details of the alleged incidents and said very little about the investigative process.

"We don't want to jeopardize this investigation in any way," said Const. Jason Michalyshen, a police spokesman. "The complaint has been filed here for reasons known to Mr. Fleury and our investigators."

No charges have been laid.

Michalyshen said the investigation will take some time and might encounter some challenges given the amount of time which has passed since the alleged abuse occurred.

One challenge may be locating Graham James, the disgraced former coach Fleury, who grew up in Russell, Man., publicly accused in a tell-all book published last year.

Asked if police know James's whereabouts or if they've had contact with him since speaking to Fleury, Michalyshen said he's not privy to that kind of information.

James, 57, has been elusive since he completed a 31/2-year prison sentence for sexually abusing former NHLer and fellow Manitoban Sheldon Kennedy, now 40, and a second player, whose identity was protected by the courts.

James coached hockey in Spain about a decade ago and was last thought to be in the Montreal area. He's banned from coaching in Canada.

Fleury played for the James-coached St. James Canadians of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.

Yesterday, police didn't mention James by name and wouldn't comment on a suspect, saying such information will be released if and when charges are laid and the investigation concludes.

In his autobiography Playing with Fire, Fleury claimed James molested him and Kennedy, raised in Elkhorn, Man., during a trip to Disneyland in California, among other incidents.

chris.kitching@sunmedia.ca


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