The man at the heart of the Maple Leaf Gardens sex abuse scandal has had his sentence extended to 10 years after the Ontario Court of Appeal deemed his earlier sentence “demonstrably unfit.”
Gordon Stuckless was sentenced three years ago by trial judge Mara B. Greene at the Ontario Court of Justice for sexually abusing 18 boys — some as young as 10 and 11 — over a period of two decades from 1965 to 1985.
Justice Greene sentenced Stuckless to six and a half years after he was convicted of 102 charges, including 43 counts of indecent assault, 47 counts of gross indecency and 10 counts of sexual assault. At the time, Greene noted Stuckless had been a trusted figure for decades, working as a teaching assistant, a coach and at the Gardens.
Stuckless, 67 at the time of the sentencing, also received six months’ credit for time spent under house arrest, meaning he was to serve a total of six years behind bars.
The appeal court took issue with that sentence.
“Gordon Stuckless is a sexual predator,” the appeal court ruling reads. “The magnitude of his offending is staggering. The harm that he has caused is incalculable.”
Stuckless, the ruling reads, “groomed his victims, providing them with hockey sticks and sports memorabilia, promising to introduce them to Toronto Maple Leaf players, taking them to movies and hockey games, and so on, all with a view to gaining an opportunity to abuse them.
Original sentence deemed ‘startling’
“He also used psychological and physical threats. He sexually abused the boys in cars, in the woods, at schools, at hockey rinks, in movie theatres, at a dental office, and at Maple Leaf Gardens. He abused some of the boys in their own homes while he was a guest of their families.”
The appeal court ruling states the crimes affected not only the victims but their parents, spouses and children, calling the original sentence of 6.5 years “startling.”
Stuckless’s lawyer, Ari Goldkind, had argued in 2016 that his client should face a five-year sentence, with two years of credit for time spent under house arrest and steps taken to prevent recidivism — namely the fact that he has voluntarily undergone chemical castration for more than a decade.
‘Their lives have been ruined’
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.
Stuckless apologized in court in 2016, 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.
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 for in 2016 were announced.