Crown's appeal of sentence given to Graham James set for Dec. 3

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WINNIPEG - A hearing has been set in Manitoba Appeal Court for the Crown's attempt to get a harsher sentence for disgraced junior hockey coach Graham James.

Dec. 3 has been set aside for arguments over the two-year sentence given to James for sexually abusing retired NHL star Theo Fleury and his cousin, Todd Holt, when they were teenage players in the Western Hockey League.

The sentence last March prompted outrage from James's victims.

The Crown had asked for a six-year term and, in its appeal, says the judge erred by placing too much emphasis on James's previous time behind bars.

James was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in 1997 for molesting former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy and two other players.

The former coach got out of jail in 2000 and dropped out of public view.

He is eligible to apply for day parole for his latest convictions, but the National Parole Board says it has not received any applications from James.

If the Crown is not successful in its appeal, James will eligible for full parole in November and for statutory release next July.

His lawyer, Evan Roitenberg, would not comment on why James has yet to seek parole and whether he will apply in the coming months.

Roitenberg had asked for a conditional sentence with no jail time. Following his client's sentencing last spring, Roitenberg said James had accepted his fate and had been punished enough.

When provincial court Judge Catherine Carlson handed down the two-year sentence, she said Holt and Fleury were essentially trapped and subjected to "degrading and humiliating" assaults.

But she added that James expressed remorse, apologized to his victims and has experienced "an extreme degree of humiliation" — factors she said warranted a reduction in his sentence.

Organizations: NHL, Western Hockey League, National Parole Board

Geographic location: WINNIPEG

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