Character fair game in Frost trial

IAN ELLIOT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

NAPANEE -- When David Frost's trial starts in earnest today, most witnesses who testify will do so without a publication ban shielding their identities.

The judge overseeing the trial of the former coach and hockey agent opened the door yesterday for a wide range of character evidence that paints Frost as a controlling and bullying authority figure, even if that does not in itself prove he was a sexual predator.

Frost faces four charges of sexual exploitation involving teenage hockey players.

Justice Geoff Griffin ruled on two pre-trial motions brought by Crown attorneys and lawyers representing Frost yesterday afternoon.

He denied a Crown request to shield the identities of those who will give evidence of orgies that allegedly took place in Frost's hotel room when he coached the Quinte Hawks in the 1990s.

But he will allow witnesses to give evidence that Frost, to paraphrase witness testimony, was "belligerent, ignorant, rude and [lacked] cleanliness."

The Crown hopes to use such evidence to paint a picture of a coach who had such influence over his players that when he ordered them into sex acts -- in which he was a participant or observer -- they automatically obeyed.

Griffin, hearing the case without a jury, said although evidence might paint a picture of Frost as a distasteful human being and a hot-headed coach, he would not let that alone lead to a finding of guilt on the sex charges.

"I will never lose sight of the fundamental issue," he assured lawyers in the Napanee courtroom.

Griffin said he had no choice but to deny a Crown motion seeking to shield the identities of women who either saw or were part of sex acts with players under Frost's charge a decade ago.

"These women are not children now, they are not victims of sexual offences and they are not vulnerable," he ruled.

The charges are characterized in the Criminal Code as involving a person in a "position of trust or authority" with a young person who touches a young person for a sexual purpose or "invites, counsels or incites" a young person to touch another person for a sexual purpose.

The only publication bans on identities will be those that are mandatory under Canadian law such as for minors who are victims of sexual assaults.


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