Graham James victims support government initiatives against child sexual assault

CALGARY, Feb. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Sheldon Kennedy and Greg Gilhooly, both victims of Graham James, the hockey coach convicted of hundreds of sexual assaults, today issued comments strongly supporting the Harper Government's initiatives to introduce new legislation relating to child sexual assault.

"The Harper Government, led by Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson, is to be applauded for taking important steps to address issues relating to those who commit assaults against children, and the victims themselves.  These initiatives can only be seen as positive given the manner in which they deal with those who prey upon the most vulnerable in our society."

"Fundamentally, this is about prevention of child sexual abuse. Tougher sentences signal that child sexual assault will not be tolerated.  Victim support enables victims to come forward more easily and in greater numbers, which de-stigmatizes those who suffer such abuse.  The more we know, and the more we help, the better the chance we have to reduce the occurrence of child sexual assault."

"This is not a "lock them up and throw away the key" approach. The Government is focusing on more appropriate sentencing recognizing the severe nature of what child sexual assault is, but in a sensible manner within our existing system built on rehabilitation of the criminal.  Importantly, the Government has also recognized that while we do a good job of attempting to rehabilitate criminals, we need to address the rehabilitation of victims given the cost to society as the victims attempt to deal with the carnage left in the aftermath of their child sexual assault."

"While there remains much more to do regarding child sexual assault, Minister Nicholson's announcements today represent a big step forward, and our Government is to be applauded for its focus and efforts in this area.  Our hope is that support for these initiatives will be non-partisan, as the issues relating to child sexual assault are too important to be left to party politics."

Graham James served less than half of his five and one half years jail sentence in respect of hundreds of sexual assaults against Sheldon Kennedy and another victim whose name is protected by court order. Mr. James was recently sentenced for a further two and one half years after pleading guilty without trial to charges in respect to  hundreds of sexual assaults against Theo Fleury and Todd Holt. Charges with respect to Mr. Gilhooly were stayed in the resolution of those matters.  The Crown has appealed this most recent sentence.

Sheldon Kennedy is Co-Founder of Respect Group Inc.  and recipient of an Honourary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of the Fraser Valley in recognition of his courageous leadership as a victims advocate.

Greg Gilhooly, a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, is currently a lawyer in Toronto.

SOURCE: Respect Group Inc.

For further information:

Tammy Meyer 
(403) 601-0200