Fleury talks about James fallout
|Former NHL player Theo Fleury speaks at a news conference in Winnipeg on March 22, 2012. (CHRIS PROCAYLO/QMI Agency)
Former Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury says the high-profile sentencing of rapist Graham James was tougher on him than he expected, but he's managed to refocus on seeking help to deal with the sexual abuse he suffered as a teen.
James, 59, a former junior hockey coach, was sentenced last month to a two-year prison term for sexually assaulting Fleury and his cousin Todd Holt when they were teenage hockey players.
Fleury and Holt called the sentence a "national disgrace."
In a blog post Thursday, Fleury wrote: "Not many people have to see the face of their rapist in every newspaper, on thousands of websites, next to photos of their own in several publications, and on blogs all over the place. Not many people have to give public interviews and answer questions about their rapists for weeks on end. I have. And I thought I was powering through it, that it wasn't affecting me all that much. I was wrong."
He said he began to have flashbacks and "seek comfort with a few people" who didn't have his "best interests at heart." Thankfully, he says, he recognized the problem "before anything bad happened" and is set to take some time, along with his family, to seek professional help and focus on healing.
Fleury, who has a history of alcohol and drug abuse, posted a followup message because he said some news outlets misinterpreted his original post.
"It never ceases to amaze me how much the media tries to read into everything, i.e. my blog post about focusing on taking care of myself and my family with expert counsellors because of the stress and strain the court case with Graham James has caused for me. There are those who now believe I've suffered a relapse, so let me be clear: I have not suffered a relapse," Fleury wrote.
He later added, "I thought I could power through it all, I cannot. So I am doing what is best for me and for my family — I'm taking a bit of a break to continue my focus on healing, and to keep my family with me on that track."
James was previously sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for sexually abusing two junior hockey players, including Sheldon Kennedy, and another young victim. James served 18 months before completing his parole in 2000.