|Former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy prepares to testify before a Commons committee on Parliament Hill. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)
OTTAWA — Monsters who sexually abuse children should never be pardoned for their heinous crimes, according to ex-NHLer Sheldon Kennedy.
Kennedy famously opened up in 1997 about the earlier sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his former junior hockey coach Graham James. The admissions led to James' arrest and conviction.
But James, who is back in police custody now on other sexual abuse allegations, was quietly pardoned in 2007.
"My abuser got three-and-a-half years for his crimes, and was released after only 18 months. Then he got a rubber stamp pardon, took off to Mexico with a clean record, name change, and a chance to start offending yet again," Kennedy told Parliament's public safety committee Wednesday.
"Is there a parent in this country who would have an issue with protecting their children from this animal and others like him?" Kennedy added. "He and other perpetrators like him should never be allowed to get a pardon. Period."
The government is proposing to bar child sex offenders like James from ever being eligible for a pardon, as well as criminals convicted of four-or-more indictable offences.
All federal political parties scrambled last June to pass elements of the government's pardon reform bill to block infamous killer Karla Homolka from being eligible to apply.
Now, the government wants the rest of the bill passed but the opposition is concerned some of the changes go too far.
Kennedy told the committee people who aren't victims of sexual abuse as children may not fully appreciate the damage it causes.
"In the 13 years that I've worked on these issues, I've learned that child victims of sexual abuse are scarred for life," Kennedy said. "Children that are victimized spend a lifetime trying to explain what happened to them and working to restore their emotional well being, and their perpetrators get pardoned."