In the week since Mike Danton of the St. Louis Blues was arrested and charged with hiring a hit man to kill his live-in male acquaintance, the picture has gotten cloudier as intense scrutiny has focused on his agent, David Frost.
Frost has been called a monster, a master manipulator, cult figure, intelligent, cunning, nurturing, ambitious and a control freak who had unusually close and seemingly inappropriate relationships with some of the players he coached in Canada's junior hockey circuit, especially Danton. It's been hard to tell who's going to go on trial, Danton (who remains in a California jail awaiting extradition) or Frost.
In the most bizarre twist of this bizarre case, Frost has been named by anonymous media sources as the intended target of the hit. Danton, 23, was indicted along with 19-year-old Katie Wolfmeyer, his alleged accomplice. Danton's attorney said his client will plead not guilty at his federal arraignment.
"The complaint tells a very bizarre, incomprehensible story that's inconsistent with what all of Mike Danton's teammates and those close to him know about him," attorney Bob Haar said. "We will be entering a plea of not guilty at the time of the arraignment."
Bizarre. Incomprehensible. At least Haar knows what he's talking about. As fascinating as this case is, the reason it received so much attention on Outsports (more than 300 posts on our Discussion Board) were the initial reports that said Danton was trying to have his male lover killed. The motive? The acquaintance was going to leave Danton and squeal to the Blues about his promiscuity and drinking.
As I wrote last week, "I suspect we'll never know the whole story behind Danton and his acquaintance. Short of sworn testimony by either that they were lovers, many will simply refuse to believe it."
This theory is being borne out. The media has cited sources, again anonymously, who say there was no sexual relationship between Danton and the acquaintance. Frost has said Danton is not gay, and also said that "It's the FBI's fault for leaving that (gay) idea open and they have apologized. Mike is going to sue every media outlet that said he was gay. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Let's take these issues one at a time:
Frost Was the Intended Target
This is being treated as gospel in most media reports. Frost denies it, though he has about as much credibility as Saddam Hussein discussing human rights. The government, though, has not yet revealed who the intended target was, neither confirming nor denying it's Frost.
Assuming there was no sexual relationship, no one has yet laid out a plausible motive for why Danton would want to kill Frost, though having an agent who seems like a scumbag might be grounds enough. If Frost were the target, why would he want to tell the Blues that Danton was a promiscuous drunk? Besides having the Blues laugh in his face, why risk the career of one of your clients?
And if Frost were the target, wouldn't he know his voice is on an FBI recording talking to Danton about the alleged hit and that this would eventually come out? If so, why lie and spend time talking to the media about the case? Wouldn't the FBI tell a potential victim and witness to shut up?
On the other hand, Frost told a newspaper that, "Mike is suffering from some paranoia and some delusional thoughts regarding his past. In his mind, Mike honestly thought he was in danger." This seems like a clear case of Frost trying to get in front of the story by discrediting anything Danton says.
To further muddy the waters, the FBI complaint said that Danton's cover story was to have been that two burglars broke in, and one killed the other and fled with $3,000 in cash from the apartment. If this is true and if the acquaintance was Frost, it would have taken the cops about two minutes to figure out that the dead "burglar" was really someone Danton had known for 10 years. Even hockey players can think of better alibis than that.
All we still have to go on is the eight-page FBI complaint that details a taped phone conversation between Danton and the acquaintance, in which "Danton broke down and sobbed. Danton explained that he felt backed into a corner and also felt that the acquaintance was going to leave him. Danton did not want to allow the acquaintance to leave him, [and] therefore decided to have him murdered." This clearly implies a close relationship between the two, sexual or not.
Danton Is Not Gay
I find it hard to believe that, as Frost contends, the FBI apologized for leaving the impression that there was a gay relationship between Danton and the acquaintance. Apologize to who? Danton, whom the feds want to put behind bars? Give me a break. I can't see the FBI caring about giving the impression that Danton might be gay. I could find no news story anywhere that says the FBI has apologized. This is just Frost blowing smoke. Why?
As for Frost's contention that Danton will sue anyone who says he's gay, one would think that the player has more worries than discussions about his sexuality--like putting on an effective defense to charges that may land him in prison for 10 years.
There is no doubt that Frost and Danton have a close relationship, though that closeness does not mean they were lovers; it might be more akin to that of a controlling authority figure and a confused kid. The Newark Star-Ledger reported an incident that illustrates this: "At the end of [St. Louis Blues] home games, most players would meet their wives or girlfriends in the hallway outside the locker room. After most games, Danton would meet Frost. Rumors started to spread that the agent had moved into Danton's apartment.
"After one game, the team source said, Frost attempted to enter a restricted area at the Savvis Center, the Blues home arena, without a pass. When the security guard stopped him, Frost angrily slapped at the man's arm and said, 'You know who I am!' " The paper quoted a Blues official as saying, "Everybody thought it was weird."
The reports that Frost was the target, along with the fact that the agent is married with a child, has led the media to drop inquiries into the possible gay angle. That's to be expected, but the question still very much remains open until we see more evidence. Based on the only documented evidence we have to date-the FBI complaint-a sexual relationship (past or present, consensual or not) between Danton and the acquaintance still seems plausible and provides the strongest motive for the attempted hit.
A focus on a possible sexual angle is not universally shared in the gay sports community. For example, Bo Folsom, a longtime player on the gay hockey circuit, had these interesting comments to make: "My take is that the gay angle on this is not relevant. ... While there may be a sexual relationship involved (and I hope there is not), this appears to be more about Frost's exertion of power and control than a reciprocal relationship."
The case will begin its judicial phase in Illinois, when the evidence will be presented to a federal grand jury, made up of between 16 to 23 people. The grand jury will hear the government's case in secret and decide whether there is enough evidence for a trial. At least 12 votes are needed for an indictment. Stay tuned.