Former MasterChef Australia finalist Paul Douglas Frost has been jailed for at least 24 years for committing sexual offences against children while working as a swim coach in Sydney. According to The New York Post, the 48-year-old was sentenced on Thursday, more than 4 years after he was arrested. He was found guilty of 43 offences over the abuse of 11 children at a swimming school in Sydney’s southwest between 1996 and 2009. Judge Sarah Huggett at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court imposed a maximum term of 32 years, noting that Mr Frost’s crimes spanned over a decade and involved children as young as 10.
On Thursday, Judge Huggett said that the 48-year-old deliberately created a culture that facilitated his offending. This included normalising talk of sex among those he was teaching, encouraging sexual activity both with and between students and engaging in graphic acts in the school’s changing room and storage room, the Post reported.
“In addition to manipulating the victims, he manipulated the parents who trusted him with their children,” she added.
Judge Huggett noted many of the victims were unaware what Mr Frost did was wrong or feared they wouldn’t believe if they spoke up. His youngest victim was nine or 10 years old when the abuse began, while the oldest was molested until the age of 16. Testimonies from victims detailed the 48-year-old’s manipulation, encouraging explicit discussions about sex and masturbation, which eventually led to inappropriate physical contact.
“Paul had built a culture of these types of things being normal,” one of the victims told the court, The Sun reported. He revealed that as a boy he went along with discussing sexual things with Mr Frost as he wanted to be one of his “cool kids”. “I thought talking about that… was just what people did. I thought it was normal because he built that kind of atmosphere around us,” he said.
Judge Huggett characterised Mr Frost’s crimes as “opportunistic, impulsive, and spontaneous”. “He moved from one victim to the next as and when he so desired and in doing so corrupted their healthy and normal sexual development,” she said. The judge found that each victim was a reliable witness who gave evidence in court with “dignity and courage”. “It can only be hoped that the finalisation of the proceedings can offer some form of closure to each of the victims of these offences,” she added.
Mr Frost was once a contestant on the cooking show MasterChef Australia. According to the Post, he was also a participant in the first season of the Network Ten show. The 48-year-old was arrested in September 2019 at his Sylvania home. Following this, he lost his job at the University of New South Wales (NSW) and Malabar Public School, ultimately leading to his current imprisonment.
Mr Frost will be first eligible for parole in June 2047 after 24 years behind bars.