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Convicted sex offender Graham James, Manitoba school division named in lawsuit


Convicted sex offender Graham James and the St. James-Assiniboia School Division are facing a lawsuit over alleged sexual assaults that happened while James was a substitute teacher for the division in 1983.

The statement of claim was filed in Manitoba's Court of King's Bench on Nov. 7, 2023. The plaintiff is seeking more than $6 million for damages, loss of earning capacity, court costs and other expenses. CTV News Winnipeg is not naming the plaintiff due to the sexual nature of the claims in the lawsuit.

James was a well-known junior hockey coach in the 1980s and 1990s. He has been convicted for sexually abusing former hockey players, including NHLers Sheldon Kennedy and Theo Fleury.

The lawsuit claims in 1983 the plaintiff was about 10-years-old when they first met James – a substitute teacher at a Winnipeg school in the division. It claims James developed a relationship of trust and authority over the Plaintiff.

The lawsuit alleges the abuse started around May 1983 when James put his hand on the plaintiff's thigh during class.

The abuse worsened, the claim says, when the plaintiff was told to stay after class and James put his hand up their shorts, "so that his hands made contact with the Plaintiff's genitals."

According to the lawsuit, another teacher saw what was happening through a window and went into the room yelling at James to stop.

When the plaintiff and James were later called into the principal's office, the claim says the plaintiff was 'humiliated and afraid' and did not speak as they had been instructed to do many times by James.

The lawsuit alleges there was another incident in which James performed oral sex on the plaintiff and tried to force them to do the same on him.

The lawsuit claims James used his position as a substitute teacher to start an "inappropriate relationship" and used his authority to "promulgate and foster the sexual abuse and emotional manipulation of the Plaintiff."

The plaintiff also claims in the suit that the St. James-Assiniboia School Division had a duty to provide safety to all students.

"The School Board breached the fiduciary duty and/or non-delegable duty owed to the Plaintiff and was negligent in its hiring and supervision of the Defendant James," the lawsuit says.

The claim notes the plaintiff felt scared and ashamed during the alleged incidents, which has led to fear, embarrassment and trauma.

It also says the plaintiff suffers from post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, has difficulty developing meaningful relationships, is unable to trust others, and claims the alleged harm caused their schooling to suffer and impact their career path.

A statement of defence has not been filed by either James or the school division.

A spokesperson for the St. James-Assiniboia School Division said in an email to CTV News Winnipeg that, "The Division cannot provide commentary on legal matter at this time."

According to court documents, James's address was listed at a Montreal halfway house. CTV News Winnipeg tried to reach James but was unable.

The allegations haven't been tested in court. Top Stories

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