Last week I was shopping in the new Loblaws store that has taken up residence in the Maple Leaf Gardens building. The spacious store was bustling with shoppers, many taking pictures and excitedly calling friends on their iphones describing the new store. I wondered how many of them knew about the crimes that took place here, or if they cared.
Every time I go near that building, I think of Martin Kruze, a man I've never met and never will. Martin killed himself in November 1997 by jumping off the Bloor St. viaduct, a few hundred metres from where I now live.
He was one of the many children who were sexually abused in this iconic building in downtown Toronto. Martin was the first victim to come forward in 1997. I think of Martin Kruze and Sheldon Kennedy because the same year, I was going through a very public case regarding sexual abuse myself.
The effects of childhood sexual abuse lasts for years and destroys lives.
I was sharply reminded of this on Tuesday when the pedophile Graham James was sentenced to a pathetic two years in prison for repeatedly molesting Theron Fleury and his cousin Todd Holt.
I had been sexually abused for more than a decade, by two men, one an
uncle and the other a family friend. It began when I was 10 years old.
The uncle pleaded guilty to molesting me (and others) more than
500 times. He was sentenced to
10 years. He served about 3. The other man killed himself before
In 1997, he
also admitted to molesting Sheldon Kennedy, who played
in the NHL, and another player. James served about 18 months for that
Mr. Holt, said in a statement yesterday, "This sentence today is nothing short of a national travesty because we
know that childhood sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions in our
country." I couldn't agree more.
The province of Manitoba should appeal the sentence of Graham James. As it stands James could be out of prison by November of this year!
The survivors of childhood sexual abuse deal with the effects of the abuse daily, for the rest of their lives. Studies have proven higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, depression and suicide.
This has to stop. We must send a strong message to those who abuse children that they will be punished to the full extent of the law.
We must send an equally strong message to the children who are being abused that we won't tolerate abuse and they will be supported if/when they come forward.
Judge Catherine Carlson has done a great disservice to the people of Canada.
A childhood lost can never be regained. Ever.