WINNIPEG -- Former junior hockey coach and convicted sex offender Graham James has been released on bail and is allowed to live in the Montreal area until his trial on new sexual assault charges in Winnipeg.
After two days of hearings over two weeks, James was expected in court Monday to finalize his bail conditions. But documents indicate that a justice of the peace signed off on his release late Friday afternoon after James posted $10,000 in cash.
Former Calgary Flames forward Theo Fleury, the only one of the three new complainants who can be identified, said he wasn't surprised James had been released with no public notice. His earlier bail hearings had been covered by several reporters with camera crews stationed outside the courthouse.
"He got a pardon and we didn't know about it, I guess it's par for the course," said Fleury, referring to the decision in 2007 to grant James a pardon on his three earlier convictions for molesting young players he coached.
Fleury noted the conditions of bail appear fairly strict. There are 11 restrictions, including that he report to police in Montreal once a week, that he not leave the country and that he not be alone with a person under 18.
The reasons for granting bail are covered under a publication ban.
When James was tracked down living in Mexico earlier this year he was believed to be working for a Montreal-based company.
Sources speaking on condition of anonymity told The Canadian Press that James was indeed in Montreal on Monday.
But a Montreal police spokesman said he could not comment due to privacy issues.
Sgt. Ian Lafreniere said specialized investigators with the force's sex-crimes division are assigned to keep tabs on sex-offenders awaiting trial. Those investigators ensure that any bail conditions assigned to a specific individual are met.
"But in this case, we won't confirm whether or not he's in Montreal," Lafreniere said. "That would be illegal."
Manitoba Crown attorney Colleen McDuff, who had originally opposed granting James bail, said there was no intent to avoid scrutiny with the Friday release.
"People seem to be under the impression that somehow this was all done clandestinely and nobody wanted (anyone) to know he was being released, and that's not the case at all," she said Monday.
"This is just how the nature of his release played out."
McDuff said most of the conditions had been fixed in court last week and there were only a few details to be worked out, such as the address where he would be reporting to police in Montreal.
"It was just fill in the blanks."
James was a prominent junior hockey coach in Western Canada from the 1970s through to the 1990s.
He currently faces nine charges stemming from alleged encounters between 1979 and 1994 involving three boys, one of them Fleury.
Fleury went on to become a star in the National Hockey League and wrote about the alleged abuse in his book. He then made a complaint with police, prompting the second investigation.
James, 57, already served almost two years in jail in the late 1990s for assaulting three young hockey players, including former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy.
He was initially convicted of assaulting Kennedy and another junior player. About a year later, he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1971 and got six months in jail to be served concurrently with the original sentence.
James was pardoned by the National Parole Board and moved to Mexico, but returned to Canada after Winnipeg police issued a warrant on the new charges in October.
It isn't known when James may face a trial.
Fleury said he will attend only if required to.
"If I have to be there or I need to be there, then of course I'll be there."