Saturday, November 29, 2008

SPORTS: Evil Incarnate

I have looming programming deadlines and have had precious little time to WATCH sports, let along blog about it. So it is with great reluctance and rage all at the same time that I once again have to appear here to get something off my chest and let me get some sleep.

Friday was a rare day around here. I was roused from my cave to go and have a free lunch with some friends, soon to depart from Brampton as their year-round home. Off to Florida and then a residential move to Niagara. Ed and Jeanine Hills are good folks and the town's going to miss them. That said, I didn't enjoy my free lunch.

Getting into the car, I happened to catch the sports news at the top of the hour. It concluded with the news that David Frost had been acquitted of all charges in his trial in Napanee, Ontario. This is the same David Frost that was the subject of a murder-for-hire attempt by a client, former NHL player Mike Danton (aka Mike Jefferson). Once again, a man I believe is evil, is walking around as a free man.

I wasn't at the trial and I have no idea how the judge, Geoff Griffin, came to the conclusion that the women in the trial weren't entirely believable and that the former players for the Quinte Hawks Junior A hockey team were, when they denied Frost's intimate involvement in their sexual affairs. I was prepared for that ruling. Three weeks ago, I was told that was going to be the result. And yet, I was so distraught when it really did come to pass, that I left half my lunch on the table during my free meal. Not to be flippant, but I don't pass up free food. And I sleep fine most nights, usually from exhaustion these days. And here I am writing up a blog post two hours after trying to fall asleep.

It's been more than two decades since I last had any contact with Frost. And even back then, I probably only had a half-dozen, standing around shooting the breeze, discussions with him at hockey games. Never once did he do or say anything to cause me direct harm. And never once did I not get the feeling that I had just talked to one of the slimiest people in the occasionally self-serving area of minor hockey.

At the time, I was involved with the Bramalea Blues Junior A team. Having watched them as a fan from their inception (a friend's father was the first president of the club), covered them as a reporter for the Guardian for more than a decade, and then having worked directly for club owner Joe Abraham in several capacities, I had a vested interest in the Blues. I truly believe Frost's belief in his own invincibility got started with his decision as a mentor (svengali was more like it), to take several then Bramalea players to Deseronto to play for the Hawks. The transfer wasn't approved, and the aftermath of the departure included missing equipment belonging to the Blues. But rather than fight in any of several venues to stop Frost and his minions from leaving, the sense at the time, was to let this disgusting toad and his players go. Addition by subtraction.

Would we (the Blues) have decided differently! Maybe, just maybe, we might have derailed a disaster in the making in so many lives. On the other hand, Frost was soon to be convicted of slugging one of his players, IN FULL VIEW of an arena of witnesses, so maybe this is just all self-flagellation. That conviction on a greatly reduced charge was a small hiccup. Otherwise, Frost has seemingly never paid in the slightest for his ability to control the lives of his core group of players, down to their sexual experiences. His group of accolytes included several future NHL players and several other almost-weres. He'd gained the trust of the parents of these kids by promising future riches playing the beloved sport of hockey. And he made good on most of the promises. Destroying the relationship these kids HAD with their families was just the price of success.

The CBC and Bob McKeown have made it a mission to try and put the spotlight on this darkest of human souls. So have reporters like Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. The chilling recording of a phone conversation between the imprisoned Danton and Frost, in which Frost forces a profession of love out his client, the same client in jail for trying to arrange Frost's murder, is unforgettable. A grown man simpering into the phone "Love you too," remains an indelible memory from one of the first exposes of Frost that survived lawsuit chill to make it to the general public.

I believe David Frost is evil. The wreckage of families he's left behind in his wake simply beggars the imagination. Time after time, good people, like this judge in Napanee or the RCMP folks that didn't believe Tom Jefferson, the younger brother of Mike, who told tales of being hazed in a potentially illegal way by Frost, Mike and others under Frost's sway, are proven wrong in retrospect. Just as pictures later showed up to vindicate Tom, I'm sure we'll find out later the goings on in that room at the motel in Deseronto were just as the women said.

But it will be too late.

Maybe I'll stop wishing I'd done something about raising hue and cry over Frost's contempt for the rule of hockey and of the law, way back at the beginning. Maybe I'll absolve myself completely for being, in a very small way, one of the many who turned an eye, rather than confront the unpleasantness that is and was David Frost. But it's not going to happen tonight ... this morning ... as I try and get to sleep.

Say a prayer for all of those that hoped justice would be served yesterday.

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