Former NHL star Theo Fleury has fired back at Montreal Gazette columnist Pat Hickey, who wrote a controversial piece on Fleury’s crusade against Graham James, the man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Fleury when he coached him as a youngster in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Soon after James pleaded guilty, Fleury held a press conference during which he was critical of a system that allows an admitted sex abuser to walk free on bail in Montreal until he gets sentenced by a Winnipeg court in February.
In his inflammatory column, Hickey questions Fleury’s courage and calls him hypocritical for blasting the justice system’s handling of the James case.
"I find it hypocritical that Fleury can blast the justice system for giving James two months of freedom when he provided his former coach with years," Hickey writes, going on question the player’s decision to initially remain silent on James’s actions. "Fleury has been through enough counseling to know there’s a word for someone who acts in this fashion – enabler."
In quick response, Fleury has called for Hickey to be fired from the newspaper.
A message was posted early Tuesday on Fleury’s website, theofleury14.com, under the bold, block-lettered heading "THIS IS WHY NO ONE COMES FORWARD."
It reads: "We find it very distressing to hear anyone, much less a columnist for a major newspaper, take the side of a known convicted rapist by calling Theo Fleury an enabler. Trash talk and garbage columnists focus on the abuser and not on the abused. Pat Hickey is more interested in attempting to pit the abused against one another, than in demanding justice. This column makes all other pedophiles rub their hands in glee-they have found a new hero in Pat Hickey. Would you please write to the editor of the Montreal Gazette and demand that Pat Hicke (sic) be fired immediately."