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Winnipeg police issue arrest warrant for Graham James

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The Canadian Press
10/14/2010 12:17:52 AM
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WINNIPEG -- The lawyer for convicted sex offender Graham James says the former junior hockey coach faces several new charges of alleged sexual assault dating from the late 1970s through the early 1990s.

Evan Roitenberg refused Wednesday to reveal whether he had spoken to James, but did say: "Mr. James has indicated nothing but a willingness to co-operate with the police in their investigation. That hasn't changed."

Police confirmed a report by The Canadian Press that a Canada-wide warrant had been issued for James.

A release from the Winnipeg Police Service referred to an investigation into "complaints of historic sexual assaults" but said no more information would be released.

"What it means is I'm going to be discussing with the police and-or the Crown's office how best to proceed at this point," Roitenberg said. "I'm hoping to have those discussions sooner rather than later."

Police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen refused to provide more details about the new charges.

"We're really not able to comment any further at this time," he said.

Michalyshen had said earlier in the day that police did not want to do anything to jeopardize the investigation. He wouldn't say how many alleged victims might have been contacted by police.

"We have put a lot of resources and a lot of members who are highly skilled in dealing with situations like this (on the case)."

Roitenberg said he had no details of the police investigation.

"I don't know the nature of the evidence that their investigation has brought forth. I don't know to whom they have spoken," he said.

James was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison in 1997 after he pleaded guilty to hundreds of sexual assaults involving two teenage hockey players under his influence. One of them was Sheldon Kennedy of the National Hockey League.

A tell-all autobiography published last year by former NHL star Theoren Fleury contained new allegations against James, who coached Fleury and Kennedy as young teens in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

It was Kennedy and an unnamed individual who finally went to police in 1996, leading to the original charges.

James was granted a pardon by the National Parole Board in 2007, has coached internationally and is believed to be living in Mexico.

"Our goal is to arrest and bring this individual before the courts," Michalyshen said.

Should James decline to come to Canada, extradition is another avenue for authorities. The attorney general of the province where the charges are laid would have to make a request for extradition to the federal justice minister.

Officials with that department's international assistance group, on behalf of the minister, would review the request and determine if it should be made to the Mexican authorities.

If yes, the department would make the request to Mexico for extradition or could ask Mexico to arrest James.

Mexico would then go through its own processes in responding to the request and Canadian officers would bring James to Canada.

Earlier Wednesday, Fleury held a news conference in Toronto to respond to a report from The Canadian Press that a warrant for James was imminent.

Fleury said finding ways to help victims of sexual assault is bringing a new purpose to his life. He added that during his book tour, many men leaned over to him during signings and whispered, "Me too."

Fleury alleged in his book that James began molesting him when he was 14 years old.

-- With files from Jim Bronskill in Ottawa

Graham James (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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