Sierra Vista is an Army town of about 43,000 residents located 75 miles southeast of Tucson. And for several years, unbeknownst to most of its citizens, it was home to a pedophile ring that preyed on vulnerable children.
This week, one of those children, a former foster youth who is now 18, filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Arizona’s child welfare system for failing to protect him from the crime ring.
In April 2016 and again in June, July and August of 2017, newspapers reported on arrests of adult men in Sierra Vista who had been sexually inappropriate with minors. One man had been a bus driver, and two of them had worked for the nearby Army base, one as a civilian, and one as a soldier.
Through a Philadelphia investigation that led authorities to the soldier, they learned about another man: 59-year-old former foster parent and former Department of Defense employee David Frodsham. In December 2016, Frodsham was sentenced to 17 years in prison for child sexual abuse and pornography.
Fourteen months later, a youth who had been in Frodsham’s care from 2004 to 2016 – and who was adopted by the family in 2012 – filed a $15 million suit against Arizona’s Departments of Child Safety (DCS) and Economic Security.
According to the claim, “David Frodsham utilized the State of Arizona and the foster care system to funnel innocent, vulnerable children into his home, so he could run a pedophile ring.”
The youth, named John Doe in the suit, was about 5 years old when he was placed with the Frodshams, where he was a victim of sex trafficking, used for the creation of pornography, and was sexually and physically abused for 12 years.
Between 2002 and 2016, 38 police reports were filed on the Frodsham house, and at least 10 reports of abuse and neglect were recorded by DCS, the claim says.
According to the claim, “The Frodshams forced John Doe to live outside much of the time. While they went to work they locked John Doe out of their home and left him with a bike to travel to a convenience store to use the restroom. This neglect and abuse was documented by the State and its employees.”
John Doe himself complained about the abuse to DCS 16 times.
The Frodshams’ foster care license was suspended in 2015 when David Frodsham was arrested for felony drunk driving with toddlers in the vehicle. Since John Doe had been adopted by them in 2012 he remained in their care until 2016 when Frodsham was again arrested on the child sexual abuse and pornography charges.
The claim states that Frodsham was relieved of his position with the Department of Defense due to sexual harassment and that a military assessment showed he had an “unalterable personality disorder.” It goes on to say that a psychologist who “does assessments of sex offenders in the military believes that the coded language of the discharge indicates the underlying reason for his removal was sexual abuse of boys in Afghanistan.”
The claim also says John Doe believes “Most of the predators are in the military in Sierra Vista with top secret security clearances.”
“This case is one of the worst cases of neglect and torture I have seen in my 35 years of experience,” John Doe’s attorney, Lynne Cadigan, told the Tucson Daily Star. “The suffering this child has endured is unimaginable.”
Arizona is also in the midst of a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all children in foster care for violating their constitutional rights and failing to provide them with health screening and treatment guaranteed to them under federal Medicaid law.