Graham James returns to Canada to face charges

Notorious former junior hockey coach Graham James has surrendered to police according to a source....

Notorious former junior hockey coach Graham James has surrendered to police according to a source. (QMI AGENCY)

DAVE DORMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:35 PM ET

CALGARY -- Graham James has returned to Canada to face charges of sexual assault against Theoren Fleury and two other men.

James was met by members of the Winnipeg Police Service at Pearson International Airport in Toronto about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, where he was taken into custody and escorted back to Winnipeg.

"I'm obviously pretty happy to hear he is in custody and off the streets," Fleury said in a statement.

"His arrest is one step closer to seeing justice served. I don't know what the next steps are but I trust the legal system to do what needs to be done."

James' lawyer, Evan Roitenberg, said his client made arrangements to turn himself in, but wouldn't say from where James returned to Canada.

James was reported to be living in Guadalajara, Mexico, earlier this year.

Roitenberg met with James after he was taken into custody and said the disgraced former coach is handling the situation as well as can be expected.

"I think it's been a very hard day for him, I think it's been a very hard time for him period," said Roitenberg.

"What he's going through is not easy.

"Of course, I recognize that by saying that most of your readers are not going to feel one iota of sympathy for him."

A Canada-wide warrant was issued for James on Oct. 13, alleging he abused Fleury between 1983 and 1985 in both Moose Jaw, Sask., and Winnipeg.

The two other victims are subjects of publication bans and cannot be named, but the alleged offences against them took place in Winnipeg and Swift Current, Sask., between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s.

Cops have been investigating nine new charges of sexual abuse against the three victims.

Fleury's allegations came in January following the release of his book, Playing With Fire.

The other alleged victims in Calgary and Manitoba later came forward with complaints, and a former Calgary Hitmen player is also reported to be considering contacting cops.

James was earlier sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison after being convicted of sexual assault against Sheldon Kennedy and another man who was not named publicly.

Kennedy said he's not surprised James returned to face the latest charges.

"I think he was looking at a choice to either go to a Mexican prison or come back and knowing the coward that he is, he chose to come back," he said.

Kennedy has spoken to the three newest victims and they are doing well.

"I am in close contact with one of the gentlemen and I think they're OK," he said.

"They've worked hard at moving on and the most important part is even though we know it's a good day Graham is in custody, there's a mixed bag of emotions that comes with this stuff."


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