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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Maple Leaf Sex Scandal Shocks Canada

TORONTO -- Another sex-abuse scandal is jolting the ice hockey world in Canada, involving allegations that staff at Maple Leaf Gardens, one of the sport's hallowed sites, lured boys into sex with offers of free tickets and player autographs.


One alleged victim says he was part of a sex ring from 1975 to 1982 in which group sex took place in the back rooms of the building, sometimes during Toronto Maple Leafs games.


A former maintenance worker at the arena, Gordon Stuckless, appeared in court Wednesday on charges of indecent assault and gross indecency and was ordered held pending a bail hearing next week. At least two other arena employees, one of them deceased, also allegedly were involved in a sex ring.


Stuckless, 47, worked at the Gardens until the early 1990s as a backstage helper at concerts and hockey games.


Toronto police reported fielding dozens of calls from men who said they too were victims of sex abuse at the arena in the 1970s and 1980s.


"The phone's been ringing off the wall," said Detective Dave Tredrea. "It's been dozens and dozens, literally. Each one of these people will have to be interviewed, and we'll see what evidence they can bring forward."


The one complainant to come forward in public was Martin Kruze, 34, who says the abuse started when he was 13 in 1975 and continued until 1982.


It is the second major sex-abuse case this year to tarnish the image of Canada's national sport.


In January, a highly respected junior league coach, Graham James, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for repeated sexual abuse of two of his players over a period of years. One of his victims was Sheldon Kennedy, now a forward with the Boston Bruins, who went public with his story of being abused more than 300 times by James.


Similar cases involving at least three other minor league coaches have come under police investigation, and junior hockey administrators have been implementing new procedures for screening coaches.


Kruze first made his allegations in 1993 when he sued Maple Leaf Gardens. He settled out of court for about $45,000, with the stipulation he not go public, but decided this month to come forward.


Cliff Fletcher, president of the Gardens management company and general manager of the Maple Leafs, said police weren't notified in 1993 because an investigation by a private detective was inconclusive.


"It couldn't substantiate the allegations," Fletcher told the Toronto Star. "We thought at worst it was an isolated incident, if indeed it was a true incident."


Kruze said his submission to repeated sex with a now-deceased equipment manager at the Gardens was rewarded with free entry into the arena for him and his friends for hockey games and rock concerts. He said ushers often allowed him into the press box, and he sometimes dined at the Gardens' exclusive Hot Stove Lounge.


Kruze said he has attempted suicide several times and has undergone 10 years of counseling.


The Toronto Star quoted another alleged victim as saying he was lured into sex because a staff member allowed him to watch Maple Leafs practices and gave him used hockey sticks.