David Frost, whose trial on sexual exploitation charges concluded in Napanee yesterday, may not be convicted, but we ought to be very worried about the how our junior hockey players live and play and study.
The case is an unusual adventure in criminal justice. Mr. Frost, who coached the Quinte Hawks junior hockey team in 1996-97, is accused of sexual exploitation of two of his hockey players (they can't be named). Exploitation means that there were consensual sexual contacts (no assaults or rape), but that Mr. Frost abused his position of authority and trust as a coach to take advantage of the boys.
The boys deny any sexual contact with Mr. Frost ever. In fact the Crown did not call the two alleged victims to testify; they were called by the defence to exonerate Mr. Frost. The Crown's case relies on two other witnesses of the sexual acts -- witnesses who also happen to be participants, and perhaps victims, though they insist everything was consensual. These are the then-girlfriends of the players, who last week testified to participating in group sex with their boyfriends, other players and Mr. Frost himself. In closing arguments yesterday, the Crown prosecutor said it was a "he said, she said" case with a twist -- the she in question is not a victim, and the alleged victims deny that the acts in question never took place.
The defence indicated in summation that we shouldn't criminalize sexual behaviour that all parties agree to, even if it revolts us otherwise. Group sex is just part of the junior hockey culture.
The Crown has assembled a very thin case against a very creepy defendant. It's easy to sympathize with the desire to hold him responsible for permitting a culture of promiscuity and exploitation that, even though consensual, was grossly immoral. If Mr. Frost participated in all this, he is criminally guilty. If he did not, but allowed all this to take place, he is not, to put it mildly, a man who should be coaching boys away from home.
The trial has lifted a corner of the rug under which many seamy aspects of junior hockey are swept. After this trial, it is legitimate to ask whether our junior hockey system needs reform.