Former NHL star Theo Fleury calls for tougher penalties for sexual abusers
TORONTO - Former NHL star Theo Fleury is taking aim at Canada's justice system, saying the country's weak penalties for sexual abuse make it a "Disneyland for pedophiles."
The Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold medal-winning forward — a longtime advocate for victims of sexual abuse — has launched a new campaign demanding Ottawa beef up sentences for those convicted of abusing children.
Fleury, who was sexually abused by the disgraced hockey coach Graham James while playing for him in the 1980s, says the justice system "re-victimizes" those who have suffered from child abuse by being too lenient on the perpetrators.
He's pushing for a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for each count of sexual abuse, to be served consecutively.
He also wants legal repercussions for anyone who doesn't report incidents of sexual abuse.
The former Calgary Flame hopes to shore up support for the cause by walking from Toronto to Parliament Hill in Ottawa between May 14 and 23 of next year, an event he's dubbed the Victor Walk.
Aside from pressuring government, Fleury says the walk aims to raise money for groups and organizations that provide support for "victims, survivors (and) victors."
"I'm tired of people being re-victimized through the system and it absolutely has to stop," says Fleury, who considers child sexual abuse an "epidemic."
"I believe that my real legacy isn't hockey but the fight against child sexual abuse."