National General News, Global News
October 18, 2002
Leafs–Ballard–LawsuitFourth sex-abuse claim emerges against Maple Leaf Gardens staff
TORONTO (CP) –
A fourth man has emerged with claims of sexual assault against employees of Maple Leaf Gardens, and his lawyer says dozens more victims could still come forward.
"My feeling is that there's still lots of people out there who were abused at Maple Leaf Gardens," lawyer Simona Jellinek, said Friday.
"If I remember correctly, police had estimated about 150 abuse victims," she said. "I think we're aware of about 60 or 70. There's probably quite a few still out there."
The new accusations come a day after three claimants came forward with accusations against Gardens employees. One claim alleged that former Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard sexually propositioned a teenaged boy who had already been victimized by Gardens staff members.
The new claimant, known only by the initials P.M., was 12 at the time of the alleged assaults and worked as an ice cream vendor at the Gardens. He says he was repeatedly abused by former Gardens employee John Paul Roby.
"I just want some compensation for ... how my life has been affected and all the turmoil I've had to go through and all the memories I have of all the abuse," P.M., now aged 40, told Global Television in an interview Friday.
P.M. also said he was too embarrassed to tell Ballard about the abuse, and that when he hinted at it to him, he was brushed off.
"(Ballard) just said, 'Yeah, yeah, sure, I'll look into it,' and nothing really ever happened. I kind of felt he was saying 'Yeah, yeah, OK kid, whatever.'"
Jellinek, who is representing P.M., said her client had hoped his hints to Ballard might prompt some action.
"He did not admit to Mr. Ballard of his own sex abuse, but wanted Mr. Ballard to read between the lines," she said.
P.M. is seeking more than $750,000 in damages for abuse he says he suffered at the hands of Roby over two-years, but does not accuse Ballard of sexual abuse.
Ballard has been dead for 12 years and his long-time girlfriend, 69-year-old Yolanda Ballard, said the allegations against her partner are ridiculous.
"It's unbelievable," Ballard said in an interview with Global.
"I would know," she said, adding that "I had access to everything -- every nook and cranny."
Although they were never married, Yolanda changed her name to Ballard and was constantly by Harold Ballard's side.
Yolanda Ballard said that her partner was "rambunctious" and "mouthy," but he was not abusive to children.
The claimants are now seeking a total of more than $3 million in damages in a suit against Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which now owns the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association.
The other claims involve three men now aged 40 to 61 and identified only by the initials R.H., J.H. and R.L.
R.L. alleges he was repeatedly sexually abused by former Gardens' employees Gordon Stuckless and Roby in the 1970s.
R.L. goes on to allege that Ballard tried to entice him into committing a sex act. When he refused, the suit says the boy was thrown out of the arena.
R.H., 61, was abused in 1959 by Gerry Sinstead, a worker who is now deceased.
J.H., 40, alleges Stuckless sexually assaulted him several times at the Gardens in 1973, on one occasion paying the then-12-year-old boy $5 after masturbating while watching him urinate.
The allegations have not been proven in court and the defendants have not yet had an opportunity to defend themselves.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment intends to defend against the claims and will resolve the cases either through the courts or through a mediation process.
Jellinek, who also represents J.H. in his claim, said she was not surprised it took so long for her these recent claimants to come forward.
"Sex assault survivors oftentimes will take quite a bit of time, years in fact, before they are able to emotionally and psychologically understand the ramifications of the harm done to them as children and then are able do something about it," she said.
P.M. did discuss his abuse with police five years ago, but no charges resulted, she said.
At this point, Jellinek said, further criminal charges would be unlikely. "I don't believe either one (of her clients) would go the criminal route," she said, adding she didn't think it likely police would be interested in pursuing it either.
Roby, 58, was convicted in 1999 of sexually abusing dozens of young boys during his tenure as an usher at the Gardens. He died in prison last November.
Stuckless, an equipment manager, was convicted of sexually abusing 24 boys. He was sentenced in October 1997 to two years less a day in jail and ordered to take a drug to reduce his sex drive.
Just days after Stuckless was convicted in 1997, one of his victims, Martin Kruze, then 35, leaped to his death from a towering Toronto viaduct.
Ballard was 86 when he died in 1990, after struggling more than three months with kidney failure, a heart ailment and diabetes.
His checkered past included a year-long stint in Millhaven Penitentiary after he was convicted in 1972 of fraud and theft involving $205,000.