A 25-year-old Gander man was sentenced to 3 1/2 years behind bars earlier this month, after a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge deemed him a “desperate predator.”
Sheldon Frost was convicted of sexual interference involving a 14-year-old girl he met at a St. John’s sci-fi convention in May 2014.
Frost had pleaded not guilty to the charge and insisted during his trial the girl was making up the allegation. Justice David Peddle rejected Frost’s testimony, saying Frost was the liar, not the complainant.
“I conclude that Mr. Frost is not an honest witness. He is a desperate predator who has given a lot of consideration after the fact to the severity of his actions and the dire consequences applicable,” Peddle said in bringing down his guilty verdict. “He was endeavouring to lie his way out of his predicament.”
The girl testified she met Frost and two of his friends at the Sci-Fi on the Rock convention at a St. John’s hotel. On the second day of the weekend-long event, Frost invited her to go to a party in Gander, she said.
When asked why she had decided to go, the girl told the court, “Sheldon said if I didn’t go with them, someone was going to get hurt.”
She testified that she felt nervous and confused.
Once on the highway, the girl used Frost’s cellphone to call her father, and asked him if she could stay at a friend’s house overnight.
“He was endeavouring to lie his way out of his predicament.” — Justice David Peddle
On the stand, her father testified he heard a male voice coaching his daughter on what to say, and he denied her permission to stay out all night. When he went to the convention to pick her up, but couldn’t find her, he called the cell number and learned the phone belonged to Frost, he said.
The girl told the court the men asked for $60 from her and gave her vodka in the car, before taking her to an apartment building in Gander. Two of them got out of the car, leaving her alone with Frost. He tried to kiss her, she said, but she turned her head to avoid him. Eventually he got on top of her and tried to take off her shorts, she testified, and when she told him she was 14, Frost replied, “That’s OK, we’ll be alright.”
The girl said Frost had vaginal and anal intercourse with her in the car, despite her repeatedly telling him her age, and stopped when a man knocked on the car window to remind Frost he had to get ready to DJ at the party.
“She said she also tried to convince him to go inside, because she figured it was her best chance of getting away,” Peddle noted.
Another man testified to meeting the girl inside Frost’s apartment that night and learning she was 14. He said he told this to Frost, and Frost replied, “You gotta catch them all.”
By law, a person under age 16 cannot consent to sex with a person more than four years older than they are. If the sexual activity involves anal sex, payment or pornography or involves a person in a position of trust or authority, the age of consent is 18 years. All sexual activity without consent is a crime.
At one point the girl called her mother, telling her she was at a female friend’s house for the night. Frost hung up the phone, she said, and the police called back within minutes. Frost bribed the girl’s friend into telling the police and the girl’s mother that she and the girl were together, saying he’d buy her alcohol if she did it.
The complainant testified about going to the party with Frost and returning to the apartment without him, then later waking up on the couch to find him removing her clothes and penetrating her with his fingers.
At that point, police were investigating, and the girl told the court officers had been calling Frost repeatedly. Her father also called her on Frost’s phone, telling her that a relative would pick her up in Gander first thing in the morning.
The girl was dirty and crying when she got in the car, that relative testified, and disclosed she had been sexually assaulted. She went willingly directly to the Janeway, and gave statements to police.
Frost took the stand at the trial, refuting the complainant’s evidence and denying having any sexual contact with her.
“Who would say that and expect that someone would go with them?” he said of threatening the girl to come to the party. He said he didn’t know the girl was underage.
“I observed (the complainant) three years later and she still appears to me to be underage,” the judge remarked when delivering his verdict, dismissing Frost’s story.
“The complainant gave her testimony in a clear and forthright manner. Still a child, some of what she had to relive was obviously difficult and embarrassing, but she was able to forge her way through it,” the judge remarked. “The complainant’s evidence is confirmed by other evidence, which I accept.”
Despite an argument from defence lawyer Michael Ralph, Peddle remanded Frost into custody to await sentencing. On March 9, Peddle sentenced Frost to 42 months in jail, minus credit for the time he had already spent in custody, and ordered him included on the national sex offender registry.