Magazine article Anglican Journal

Toronto Dean (Doug Stoute) Stands by Defence of Hockey Czar (Alan Eagleson)

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Toronto Dean (Doug Stoute) Stands by Defence of Hockey Czar (Alan Eagleson)

Article excerpt

The Dean of Toronto's St. James' Cathedral says he stands by his assessment of disgraced former hockey czar Alan Eagleson as a "decent and honourable" man.

Very Rev. Douglas Stoute wrote the laudatory description in a character reference submitted at Mr. Eagleson's trial for fraud. It was one of 30 such letters submitted to the court from high-profile friends and supporters of one of hockey's best known figures.

Extracts from the letters were read in court after Mr. Eagleson, 64, wearing his Order of Canada pin, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and before he was sentenced to an 18-month jail sentence.

In response to the letters read in court, the Crown counsel noted that an equally thick sheaf of letters could be submitted attesting to the betrayal of trust offered by many former NHL players and business associates of Mr. Eagleson.

Former Toronto Maple Leaf great, Carl Brewer, remarked causticly: "Alan Eagleson never had friends. All he had were dupes and stooges."

In sharp contrast to the verbal berating Mr. Eagleson has received from victims, former friends and associates, the letters of support praised him for his loyalty, integrity, family values and patriotism.

Former prime minister John Turner, among some of the top names in hockey, law, medicine, the media and politics who rallied to Mr. Eagleson's defence, said he and his long-time friend had often talked about shared values of faith, family and friends and he could attest to "his loyalty to all three."

Quoting Pontius Pilate on Jesus Christ, an amateur hockey official said he could "find no fault in this man."

Dean Stoute, who said he was asked by Mr. Eagleson's lawyer to write the character reference, concluded his letter-dated Dec. 16 and written on St. James' Cathedral stationery - by saying: "Alan is, as I recognized when I first encountered him a few years ago, a colourful figure, but beneath all that I have also come to realize that he is a generous, decent and honourable man."

Dean Stoute's action has raised some eyebrows and he has been the target of some criticism. But, in an interview, he told the Anglican Journal he stands by his letter written on behalf of a friend and a member of the St. James' congregation.

"My line is this: Alan is a member of the congregation and what I've said I stand by," Dean Stoute said. "My relationship with him is that of a priest and parishioner and also his friend-that's the primary relationship. …

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