Gordon Stuckless apologized in court earlier this year, saying he betrayed his young victims' trust and he alone should bear that shame. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)
Toronto: Gordon Stuckless, the man at the heart of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal, has been sentenced to 6½ years in prison for sexually abusing 18 boys decades ago.
Maple Leaf Gardens was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL for many decades.
His sentence comes more than two years after he pleaded guilty to 100 charges for the crimes he committed.
Stuckless, 67, will receive six months' credit for time spent under house arrest, and so will serve six years.
"You ruined generations you f--king creep," one victim shouted as Stuckless was escorted out of the courtroom.
In handing down the sentence Thursday, provincial court Judge Mara Greene noted that Stuckless was a trusted figure for decades, working as a teaching assistant, a coach and at the Gardens. He took advantage of that trust to abuse his victims, Greene said, and structured his world to have access to boys.
His victims felt so much shame that it took them decades to come forward, the judge said. Some of the victims were as young as 10 and 11 years old.
Greene also noted that Stuckless had taken responsibility for his actions, is voluntarily submitting to chemical castration and has not re-offended.
Stuckless's lawyer, Ari Goldkind, had argued that his client should face a five-year sentence, with two years of credit for time spent on house arrest and steps taken to prevent recidivism — namely the fact that he has voluntarily undergone chemical castration for more than a decade.
Outside court Thursday, Goldkind said Stuckless has turned his life around and "made a vow never to harm another hair on a child's head."
"While there may be child molesters in our midst, there may be criminals in our midst, it is not Gordon Stuckless," Goldkind told reporters.
He acknowledged, however, the damage that Stuckless did to his victims.
"Their lives have been ruined by him, there's no doubt about it," Goldkind said. "And I hope that they find, and many have found, the strength to continue."
The Crown, meanwhile, had argued for a 12-year sentence, saying Stuckless had not shown genuine remorse for his actions and could not be legally compelled to continue taking anti-libido medication.
Stuckless apologized in court earlier this year, saying he betrayed the trust of his young victims and he alone should bear that shame.
The Gardens scandal exploded in the early 1990s, when Martin Kruze became the first man to step forward to say he had been lured to the hockey arena with promises of free tickets, paraphernalia and player autographs only to be sexually abused. Police arrested Stuckless and part-time usher John Paul Roby.
Roby was convicted in 1999 of sexually abusing dozens of young boys. He died in prison two years later.
In 1997, Stuckless pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting 24 boys while he worked at the Gardens between 1969 and 1988.
He was sentenced to two years less a day in that case, but that was later increased to six years less a year for pre-trial custody. He was paroled in 2001 after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
So four years in prison for sexually assaulting 24 boys. And it wasn't even a plea bargain, but it was certainly a bargain for Stuckless.
Stuckless, who is originally from Newfoundland but has lived in Toronto for decades, returned to the spotlight in 2013 when the charges he was sentenced on today were announced.
In 2014, he pleaded guilty to 100 charges — including indecent assault, sexual assault and gross indecency — for offences that occurred between 1965 and 1985.
At his sentencing hearing earlier this year, it was noted that Stuckless was also convicted of two additional charges relating to two of the victims.
With files from The Canadian Press and CBC's Natalie Kalata and Ali Chiasson
Perhaps the sentences were restricted but what laws were in place at the time the crimes were committed, but it's just ludicrous that he will spend no more than 8 years total in prison for sexually assaulting 42 boys more than 100 times.
I'm glad that he has reformed himself and taken steps to prevent re-occurrence of his abuse; but in 4 years he will be able to get on with what is left of his miserable life, while his dozens of victims continue to struggle through theirs.