Adam Frost, identified by the Department of Justice as a Southern Ute Indian Tribe (Southern Ute) member, unsuccessfully challenged a 2010 rape conviction charging that errors in the legal process led to his current 16-year sentence. His hearing was before the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 10.
Frost, who was 28 at the time of his arrest in November 2009, lived near Ignacio, Colorado, headquarters of the Southern Utes, as did his 17-year-old victim, whose name was withheld to protect her privacy. Because the crime occurred within the exterior boundaries of the Southern Ute reservation he was convicted of aggravated and abusive sexual contact in Indian country.
He challenged his conviction in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on grounds that the court admitted second-hand testimony and that he was not allowed to make a statement at sentencing until after the court had already decided his sentence.
Although a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court agreed there may have been errors in the lower court proceedings, it found they did not warrant reversal of the lower court’s conviction or constitute a serious impairment of its findings.
The crime occurred when the victim and another girl drank alcohol with Frost, who had bought it for them and who later had a sexual encounter with the victim, who reported to police, hospital workers, and the FBI that she had been raped. She said she struggled with Frost but was unable to push him away.
Frost’s attorney noted that Frost’s mother had kicked the victim out of the house where her son lived with her, and suggested the rape allegation was a fabrication to explain to the victim’s parents why she was near Frost’s house at 3 a.m. It was also suggested that the sexual encounter was consensual.
Before the rape occurred, the victim’s friend had to help her to the bathroom because “she was too drunk to get up herself,” the court record stated. Afterward, the victim reported the rape to her sister, who told her parents who, in turn, called Southern Ute police who drove her to a nearby hospital where she was tested by a certified rape examiner.
After that, the victim was no longer in danger but “she had just been through an ordeal that anyone would find traumatic—let alone a seventeen-year-old girl with no prior sexual experience,” the court noted.
The federal appellate court affirmed the District Court in Frost’s conviction and sentencing.