A Manitoba Court of Appeal judge bristled Monday at suggestions disgraced former hockey coach Graham James thought he had "loving" relationships with the players he abused.
Defence lawyer Evan Roitenberg was arguing against a Crown appeal to increase the two years James received in March for abusing former NHL star Theo Fleury and his cousin, Todd Holt, when they were in junior hockey.
"For me, you are pushing a big rock up a steep hill if you want me to accept that," said Justice Al MacInnes. He noted that James threatened players to maintain their silence and that his victims sometimes wrapped themselves in blankets to fend off sexual abuse.
The Court of Appeal reserved decision on the Crown appeal.
MacInnes made it clear that if it had been up to him, the sentence would have been longer. But the Appeal Court judges said they are only looking at whether sentencing Judge Catherine Carlson strayed too far outside the acceptable guidelines.
James, who did not attend the hearing, is already eligible to ask for full parole and will be eligible for statutory release next summer, if his sentence remains unchanged.
James pleaded guilty this year to sexually abusing Fleury and Holt while he was a Western Hockey League coach in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Crown argued Monday that four years would have been more appropriate.
© Copyright 2013