February 22, 2012
Pervert coach’s victim gains voice
By DEAN PRITCHARD, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - When Todd Holt decided to lift a publication ban preventing the media from identifying him by name, he regained something Graham James stole from him so many years ago — his voice.
A judge reserved sentencing Wednesday for James, who repeatedly sexually abused Holt and his cousin, former NHL star Theo Fleury, in the 1980s and ’90s.
“I believe that’s the only reason I lifted my ban — I wanted to be a voice,” Holt told reporters outside court. “There are people out there who want to step up, who want to say something, but they just don’t have the strength at the moment. I believe with regular guys like myself, who had regular lives, weren’t the NHL stars like the Sheldon Kennedys and Theoren Fleurys, we make a difference. There’s a lot of regular people out there with regular jobs who have been through the same thing.”
Holt said his life has been one of pain and struggle, “but I would do it over and over again if it meant I was helping someone.”
James’ lawyer Evan Roitenberg argued James has taken great strides to rehabilitate himself and is not the man he was prior to his 1996 arrest.
“I think the only difference between the Graham James of 1993 and 2012 is about 180 pounds,” Holt said.
James apologized in court, saying he was “deeply sorry” for what he did to his victims.
“It sounded sincere but I don’t think Graham James has sincerity in his system,” Holt said.
Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who was also abused by James, was at the courthouse to show support for victims. He dismissed the apology as the words of a “master manipulator.”
“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” he said. “Graham James is a liar. He’s been a liar since the day I met him.”
The Crown is seeking a sentence of six years, while the defence is recommending James serve a conditional sentence of no more than 18 months.
“I’m trying to keep an open mind,” Kennedy said. “I have trust the judge will make the correct judgment here.”
“Three lifetimes isn’t enough,” Holt said.