WHO PUSHED MARTIN KRUZE? MANY SHARE BLAME FOR THE SUICIDE OF A VICTIM OF SEXUAL MOLESTATION AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS

November 10, 1997

Who pushed Martin Kruze off Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct and
100 feet to his death last week?

Was it the Maple Leaf Gardens organization under late owner
Harold Ballard? After all, hadn't it all occurred right under
their noses--hadn't Kruze endured seven years of sexual abuse by
two of the organization's equipment managers? Hadn't it happened
on blankets in the Gardens offices and on steel chairs in the
arena's electrical room, the one high above the Stanley Cup
banners?

Hadn't equipment manager George Hannah abused Kruze constantly
starting at age 13, called him his "Number 1 boy," sat with him
in the Maple Leafs' press box during game after game? You saying
nobody knew? Or did Hannah have too many friends in the Gardens
organization? After all, when Hannah died 13 years ago, weren't
the flags at the arena lowered to half-mast?

Hadn't another Gardens equipment manager, Gordon Stuckless,
molested Kruze and at least 23 other boys during a 19-year
period ending in 1988? Yet when Kruze sued the Maple Leaf
Gardens organization in '93, claiming he had been molested by
Hannah and Stuckless from '75 through '82, why weren't the
police notified? Why did Gardens executives hand him $60,000?

Or was it Judge David Watt, who had to have been moved by
Kruze's courage in going public last February with the vile
truth, prompting more than 80 other men and two women to come
forward with their own horror stories, which resulted in the
arrests of Stuckless, 48, and Gardens usher John Paul Roby, 54,
who has also been accused of molesting boys in the arena? (Roby
denies the charges.) What was Watt thinking three days before
Kruze jumped, when he sentenced Stuckless to just two years in
prison after Stuckless had pleaded guilty to 22 counts of
indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault? How could
Watt live with himself after the way the victims screamed at him
and cursed his name in his own courtroom? And what did it do to
Kruze, knowing he had given these other victims, now grown, the
nerve to step forward and turn their lives upside down with
testimony against this twisted man? For what? For a crummy
two-year sentence? Really, what should you get for stealing a
kid's right to trust anyone ever again?

Or was it all to be put at the feet of Hannah? Why had he lured
Kruze and so many others into his terrible trap with hockey
sticks, game tickets, shrimp cocktails and concert tickets? What
kind of man binds himself to a boy so insidiously, using access
to Maple Leafs players on the one hand and the unspoken threat
of discovery on the other, all tied sinisterly to going into an
office for the nightly payoff?

Or should it all have been laid on Stuckless, Kruze's hockey
coach at 14, the burly and elegant skater who continued
molesting the boy after Hannah had stopped?

Or was it just Martin Kruze? Could he have possibly done more
than the 10 years of intensive therapy he underwent, than the
months he spent in homes for the sexually abused, than publicly
taking on the Gardens organization? Did his national acclaim as
a hero somehow make self-loathing even worse? Or was he just too
weak, as he had been too weak in allowing himself to drift from
those awful nights at the Gardens into an equally dark world of
drug abuse, prostitutes, eating disorders and bankruptcy?

Couldn't somebody see this coming from the words he wrote that
were entered into evidence at Stuckless's sentencing hearing:
"I've been full of anger, rage, guilt, shame, loneliness, terror
and self-hatred"? Hadn't doctors at Toronto East General
Hospital been told by constable Mike Jenkins six days before
Kruze's death that he had found him on the ledge of Leaside
Bridge, ready to jump? When he brought Kruze to East General,
hadn't the constable told them, "He's going to do it again if
you let him out"? Weren't Kruze's seven failed suicide tries in
the last 10 years--including wrist-slashing and taking 130
pills--enough warning?

And in the days after the 35-year-old Kruze finally succeeded,
after he had walked past the two witnesses on the Bloor Street
Viaduct in the heart of Toronto at 11 o'clock last Thursday
morning, after he had stepped over the rail, onto the ledge and
into his own kind of peace without so much as a pause, did
anybody wonder why the flags at Maple Leaf Gardens weren't at
half-mast?

COLOR PHOTO: DALE BRAZAO/TORONTO STAR/AP Kruze was a hero to the other victims. [Martin Kruze]
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)