Two years for Graham James.
A lifetime for his victims.
Yesterday's sentence for James' abuse of Theo Fleury and Todd Holt left everyone shaking their heads in disbelief. How could any judge, with any comprehension of the magnitude of the effects of abuse on a victim and his or her family, determine that a two-year sentence (of which James will probably serve only 16 months) in any way brings justice to the situation.
If Graham James were a first-time offender, one might think that the judge might have had reason to give some credence to his words of remorse and repentance. But Graham James is no first-time offender. A previous conviction (for the abuse of Sheldon Kennedy and another victim) landed him in prison, serving 20 months for a three-and-a-half year sentence. What's his next sentence going to get him? Six months? Probation and a bit of community service with kids?
One of the most dominant characteristics of the character of an abuser is the ability to manipulate people and situations. Yesterday's judgment was a reflection of James' artful power of persuasion with the judge.
There is evidence that prison does its job with some first offenders. There are cases where predators have turned themselves around and gone on to live productive lives. However, a two-time offender needs to be put away where he can no longer threaten the safety of young people. If prison hasn't done its job the first time, it's unlikely that it will turn an offender around the second, third or fourth time. We have to keep our kids safe.
Hopefully, the just-passed omnibus crime bill, C-10, will make people who fantasize about molesting vulnerable kids think twice before daring to indulge their perversions.
Thank God for the architects and labourers of Bill C-10 and the officers in the trenches who strive, day after day, to protect and rescue victims of abuse. Thank God for the clear-headed politicians who made their voices count for the children of Canada.
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