It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been as upset as I am tonight about the case of David Frost. I find it difficult to get myself together enough to write about it, but I’m going to try.
In a post on Tuesday, I commented on this story at The Star, reporting on the trial of Frost, who is charged with four counts of sexual exploitation with respect to two young men who were on a Quebec hockey team he coached. Let’s do just a little background on David Frost.
In 2004, NHL hockey player Mike Danton was arrested by FBI agents in the US on charges of conspiring to have Frost killed. Danton pled guilty to the charges. The reasons behind Danton’s attempt to have his former hockey coach killed were never revealed.
The CBC’s Fifth Estate later obtained tapes of conversations [listen to the tapes or read transcripts here]between Mike Danton, serving a jail sentence, and David Frost which indicated the control that Frost continued to have over the hockey player. A Fifth Estate documentary told the tale of their relationship, beginning when Danton was ten-years old and playing hockey in Brampton, Ontario:
It was there that Frost first began to exert his control over the young hockey player; control that continued throughout Mike’s hockey career, from the minor leagues in Toronto, through teams in the Ontario Hockey League and eventually to the National Hockey League. Frost’s influence was continual and unrelenting.
In the fifth estate documentary “Frost Bite”, Bob McKeown delves deeper into the jailhouse conversations between Mike Danton and David Frost. The program reveals new details of the intricate and troubling relationship between the St. Louis Blues player and his agent, especially the importance of Danton’s sex life as a possible influence in the murder plot.
Since Danton’s incarceration, Frost has been his media representative and his chief defender – he controls access to Danton, who has had no contact with his family for years.
In 2006, Frost was arrested by the Ontario Provincial Police on twelve charges of sexual exploitation involving four boys and three girls. The charges with respect to the girls were eventually dropped because s. 153(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada allows for such charges only when the person charged is in a position of trust with respect to the victims – that is, a teacher, coach etc. The young women were sixteen at the time of the behaviour in question and thus were able to consent to sexual contact. They were girlfriends of several of the young men, hockey players on Frost’s team, and had been involved in “threesomes” with their boyfriends and Frost. Charges were also dropped with respect to two of the boys.
That left four charges pending with respect to two young men. First problem. It seems absurd on the face of it to acknowledge the possibility of exploitation between the coach and his players and not between the coach and these young women. But that’s what the Code says. The law needs to be changed to take account of situations like this, where an adult uses his power and authority, even “second-hand”, to obtain access to young women for the purposes of sexual exploitation. That was the subject of my post, as far as it went, on Tuesday.
For the last several days, two young women have testified as witnesses in the case. On Monday, “Kristy” testified that she had been involved in “three-way” sex with her boyfriend and Frost when she was sixteen. On Tuesday, the second woman, “Jennifer”, testified:
The woman, now 28, speaking today at Frost’s ongoing trial for sexual exploitation, said that Frost had a threesome with her and her teenage hockey player boyfriend while Frost was coaching the Quinte Hawks in Deseronto in 1996.
The woman told court the three-way sexual encounters involving her boyfriend and Frost happened many times.
During the woman’s emotional testimony, she said she and her boyfriend often fought because she didn’t want to have sex with Frost anymore.
She testified that even years later, when her boyfriend was playing hockey in the U.S., Frost would be there when she visited and told them he didn’t want them to have sex if he wasn’t involved.
Here’s where it all gets even more lovely. There is a publication ban in place with respect to the young men involved both because of the nature of the charges and because they were minors at the time of the alleged offenses. The Crown applied for a ban with respect to the young woman, but The Globe and Mail argued that the ban ought not to apply to the young women because they are not “victims”. Subsequently, the judge decided not to grant the ban where they are concerned.
The Globe in its wisdom has decided not to print the last names of these women. Not so with other media. Thank you Globe and Mail. Freedom of the press is safe because of you, even if these young women are not. What’s more important anyway? [oh I’m so mad I can only snark]
I’m sorry to say, this story goes on. And on. And only gets worse.
Frost’s lawyer is Marie Heinen. Frost is creepy, pervy slimy and it’s always great for a guy like him to have a woman lawyer. How does she sleep? I’ll never understand. It’s the position of the defense that none of this “three-way sex party” stuff ever happened. With anyone. At all. So of course, the cross examination involves the proposition that these young women have fabricated the whole thing. That, in itself, is not unusual. To agree that it happened at all is to admit guilt to the offense, by definition. The question is, or was, how does it make sense to argue this if you have two young men, the complainants” in the case, saying that it did and their position is corroborated by two female witnesses?
And the worm turns. Today, the two ostensible male victims, former Ontario Junior hockey players, came to court and said none of it ever happened, the charges are ridiculous and the coach did nothing wrong at all, ever, never mind committing these criminal offenses.
Now I have to pause to, literally, weep. Here we have two young women literally hung out to dry, their reputations smashed, all in the cause of seeing David Frost put to rights by the court for what he did to these two young men and the alleged victims wouldn’t even say he did anything wrong. Not only that, they took some nasty, macho, misgynist swipes at their former girlfriends while they were doing it.
The testimony from the two young men yesterday was alternately galling and heartless.For instance, the first to take the witness box seriously described his forays into two-on-one sex as “like a bonding thing, with friends and teammates.” He appeared oblivious to the fact that in the stereotypical male fantasy, threesomes traditionally involve not two men and a woman, but two women and a man.He later attended a Canadian university on a hockey scholarship and said that after leaving the junior game, he had had threesomes and foursomes. “I had up to five and six guys with one woman,” he said quietly.
The second young man was asked by Mr. Tse if he had not once upon a time, as the judge has heard, pronounced his girl Jennifer as gorgeous. “I wouldn’t say that,” the young man replied coolly. “I was 16. It worked.”
“What worked?” Mr. Tse asked.
“She worked,” the young man smirked. “Ever heard the expression ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’?” He said she was pointed out to him as a likely sexual plaything by a player who “had been with her” previously. [here]
Given that one player disputed an incident that several other people witnessed and that resulted in assault charges against Mr. Frost, to which he pled guilty, the credibility of these players is, uh, questionable to say the least:
Arguably, the most revealing moment may have come when Mr. Tse was questioning the second player about an incident in which Mr. Frost physically assaulted one of his teammates, this in a game before an arena full of fans. No fewer than four other witnesses, including other former players and the team’s former trainer, have testified they saw the assault, and Mr. Frost in fact later pleaded guilty to it.
But this player said he never saw such a thing, and furiously told Mr. Tse [the Crown], “I also recall our whole team rallying around that and marching into the police station in Deseronto … everyone rallied around and not one player saw that assault. And no one spoke about it, if they did.” [here]
In the article I’ve been quoting here, Christie Blatchford points out the harm done to the young women who were witnesses in this case and to the game of hockey in Canada:
In the process, they inflicted incalculable damage to the national game – painting it at the junior and college levels as an amoral sexual playground – and casually, in one instance rather cheerfully, tried to obliterate the reputations of their former girlfriends.
Apart from the obvious, wtf is wrong here? I am left wondering why the Crown proceeded with this case. There are no complainants. These young men refused to meet with the Crown before coming to court, they refused to come to court until Frost’s lawyer had ensured that their identity would be protected by a publication ban and they testified for the defense. It’s not as if the Crown wasn’t aware of those facts.
If this was a case where the alleged victims were young women, this case would have gone absolutely nowhere. There’s been a lot of pressure on the O.P.P. and the Attorney General’s Office to do something about Frost for four years, since Mike Danton’s arrest. After all, he appeared to be endangering the morals of our stalwart heroes, our young male warriors, our hockey players for gawd sakes – human beings who are inestimably more valuable than any young woman could ever be. The Crown Attorney’s Office wanted Frost and they wanted him badly enough to attempt to get a conviction in a case where there just wasn’t ever much hope. Perhaps they were willing to risk it simply to prove to the people of Ontario that they tried, or perhaps they knew it would be clear enough to observers just what’s going on here that the success of the case didn’t/doesn’t really matter.
But look who paid. There’s not a Crown Attorney in this godforsaken country that wouldn’t know what was going to happen to these young women. It’s difficult enough to protect female complainants in cases such as these, never mind witnesses. Jennifer and Kristy never had a prayer. As for the publication ban, that one was a toss-up, but it certainly couldn’t or ought not to have been promised to them. And I hope to gawd it wasn’t.
I can’t help but feel that I know what they’re feeling. I can’t help but feel revulsion for the puling, cowardly ex-boyfriends, princes of our national game. And tonight, I can’t help but feel hatred toward that game and the machismo saturated system it has engendered. It has to be said that the underlying motive for these young men’s lie is not just misogyny, but also homophobia. The alleged threesomes, after all, involved two men and one woman. In the past, there has been speculation at a level much greater than a whisper that David Frost and Mike Danton were lovers. And that, as Christie Blatchford notes, is speculation that the macho boys will never admit:
… any young male in hockey who was sexually taken advantage of by, or involved with, another male would be too ashamed and alarmed at the prospect of the dread spectre of gayness that he would deny it with his dying breath. [here]
This is wrong at so many levels that I just can’t leave it alone. I’m not sure what can be done, but I’m going to mobilize my little feminist army to find out. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, if any of you have ideas, please let me know in comments or by e-mail. You’ll find my address on the “About” page of this blog.
Sleep the sleep of righteous warriors.
UPDATE: Great article on this case by Laura Robinson on Saturday in the Winnipeg Free Press. Robinson, a former member of Canada’s national cycling team, wrote Crossing the Line: Violence and Sexual Assault in Canada’s National Game in 1998.
If there was a huge hue and cry from men on this issue, from hockey fans, from hockey DADS, from male players, something might happen that would change the face of the sport and make it into something I can respect. Hockey was a central part of my childhood, even though they wouldn’t let me play – my sisters would both have made GREAT hockey players. I did idolize – and idealize – those guys. I can tell you lots of good stories about them and what they do off the ice. But I’m angry with the sport, with many of those who run it and coach in it, and with players like those described in this story, who are adults now – 28 or 29 years old – and who don’t have the courage to stand up for women. And ultimately, for themselves.
Write letters to the Winnipeg Free Press and to Laura Robinson. I’m going to gather some other addresses were you can direct your letters.
UPDATE: Christie Blatchford on the acquittal (surprise!) of David Frost – note that some commenters blame the judge for the acquittal. You can’t find someone guilty if the complainants won’t testify for the Crown!