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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Officials Defend Actions In Gardens' Abuse Case

TORONTO -- Maple Leaf Gardens officials defended their actions in the sex-abuse scandal involving the storied hockey arena.


Brian Bellmore, counsel for the Gardens board of directors, said Monday that the arena was not legally bound to go to the police over allegations that some of its employees were operating a sex ring in the building involving youngsters.


Bellmore, speaking at a news conference after an emergency directors meeting, said a $60,000 out-of-court settlement in 1993 did not preclude Martin Kruze from reporting his allegations to police.


Kruze, 34, went public last week with allegations that employees of the Gardens had coerced him and other boys into sex acts in exchange for tickets and hockey souvenirs.


Kruze's lawyer wrote to the Gardens in 1993, seeking damages for the alleged abuse. The parties agreed to settle for $60,000.


Two men who worked at the arena have been charged with indecent assault and gross indecency, and police say they are investigating dozens of other claims.


Since the story broke, Gardens management has been assailed in the Toronto media for responding to Kruze's threatened suit by having its insurance company investigate the allegations, rather than reporting them to police.


Bellmore and Cliff Fletcher, general manager of the Maple Leafs hockey club, reiterated Monday the internal investigation did not substantiate the allegations.


"We believed then and we believe now that we did the right thing," Bellmore said. "We came to the conclusion that there was no evidence" to support Kruze's allegations.