Judge makes ruling about witnesses in Frost trial
NAPANEE - The names of several women expected to testify at David Frost's sexual exploitation trial will not be shielded from publication, a decision the judge hearing the case against the former hockey coach and agent said he made with "enormous sympathy."
Ontario Court Justice Geoff Griffin also ruled Thursday that the majority of the Crown's character witness evidence -- which Frost's lawyers argued was irrelevant to the case -- will be allowed.
Court has heard the Crown will attempt to paint Frost as having had total control over his teenage players and convinced them and their girlfriends to participate with him in sexual acts, including threesomes.
Frost has pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual exploitation involving two of his male players, and his lawyers say he will deny the acts took place.
Court heard that evidence in the case includes video of one teen in which she exposes her body, and accounts of the teen being driven around Toronto topless and engaging in other sexual activities in public.
The 28-year-old woman, who was between 16 and 18 at the time of the allged acts, claims she was misled when she talked to police and was assured her identity would never be revealed, Griffin said Thursday.
The woman said the case would leave a "grey cloud over the rest of her life" and did not want to be associated with what Frost has allegedly done, he added.
The judge said it was with "enormous sympathy for these woman" that he denied a request to conceal the names of at least three of them with a publication ban. Griffin said he could find no legal reason to have the identities protected.
"Who among us cannot say we made poor decisions when we were 16 to 18, poor decisions not because we had lacked intelligence but because we had a teenaged brain with all that entails," he said in delivering his decision.
One woman has said she was experiencing panic attacks knowing her name could be released to the public, while another was distraught because her parents would find out about the alleged sexual acts for the first time, the judge noted.
But Griffin said the women were not victims since they acted consensually. Revealing their names would also prevent the spread of false rumours and innuendo throughout Napanee, a small eastern Ontario community, he added.
A publication ban also would not have prevented members of the public from attending court and learning who is involved in the case, he said.
The trial was scheduled to her evidence Friday from two hockey players who are expected to tell the court about the control Frost had over his players.
The Crown has said testimony will include allegations that Frost bullied and abused his players, that he dumped garbage on them in dressing rooms, put garbage cans on their heads and beat the containers with hockey sticks to express his displeasure with their play.
The defence wanted Griffin to disallow that testimony, arguing it was irrelevant because the charges in the case are about sexual exploitation and not Frost's actions as a coach.
Griffin ruled that the Crown's case is based on trying to prove that Frost's coaching methods and behaviour gave him total control over his players, and allowed the testimony.
"A coach is not simply a coach. Each coach brings a certain style and approach to the task of coaching," he said. "What matters in this case is the nature of the relationship between the complainants and their coach, Mr. Frost."