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Who Pushed Martin Kruze?
Rick Reilly
November 10, 1997
Many share blame for the suicide of a victim of sexual molestation at Maple Leaf Gardens
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November 10, 1997

Who Pushed Martin Kruze?

Many share blame for the suicide of a victim of sexual molestation at Maple Leaf Gardens

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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 ears 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 Loafs' Dress 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 Hags 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?

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