If Theo Fleury decides to pursue criminal charges against former junior hockey coach Graham James, Sheldon Kennedy will be in his former teammate’s corner.

Kennedy says he is willing to testify on behalf of Fleury, who alleges in his autobiography Playing With Fire that he was abused by James starting when he was a 14-year-old in Winnipeg.

“To me it would be supporting Theoren and I’m willing to do that,” Kennedy told The Canadian Press yesterday.

James was convicted in January 1997 of more than 350 incidents of sexual abuse involving Kennedy and an unidentified Swift Current teammate, and was sentenced to 42 months in prison.

Fleury had remained silent on the issue until the release of his book last month. Earlier this week, he told the New York Post he had hired a lawyer and was ready to face James in court.

“I was not psychologically prepared to come forward then, I was not strong enough,” Fleury told the Post. “But I am now, and I will do whatever it takes, no matter what the repercussions might be.

“I will follow my attorney’s instructions as we go forward, but I am prepared to testify in court under oath if that becomes necessary. I will do whatever it takes.”

Fleury’s publicist says there has been no final decision on whether any legal action will be taken against James.

“The legal team led by Calgary-based lawyer, Hersh Wolch, is working diligently through all the necessary steps and will advise Theoren Fleury on the situation in the weeks ahead,” said Angie Lamirande.

“Whether or not Fleury will press charges or if a lawsuit will be filed is still not as simple as a yes or no answer, and the decision does not lie solely on the shoulders of Fleury.”

James has not commented publicly on Fleury’s allegations.

Police officials in Calgary could not confirm if they are investigating the allegations.

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