Antrim: Accuser changes story after police handcuff, arrest her

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 9:18AM

On a Tuesday late in March, a mother and a daughter were handcuffed by Antrim police, put in a cruiser, and taken to superior court in Manchester to testify in a domestic violence case against Michael “Mike” Frosch Sr.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had to do that,” said Antrim’s Police Chief Scott Lester about transporting the women to the superior court.

At the time the two women were arrested, Mike was appealing a 6th Circuit District Court conviction for a domestic assault charge for allegedly pushing his daughter Holly, who is now 26, to the ground last May after an argument broke out between the two over feeding the dogs. Judge Amy Messer issued subpoenas for Stephanie and Holly the day of Mike’s superior court trial. Neither showed up. 

Assistant County Attorney Sarah E. Warecki said she made the decision to bring the women in because she had never talked to Holly in person. She had a phone number to Mike and Stephanie’s house, but anytime she called, Holly wasn’t there. Warecki said she suspected they were blocking her attempts.

When Holly showed up in court, the two met behind closed doors. Warecki said during that meeting, Holly changed her story from the one originally reported.

The conflicting statement was enough to drop the charge against Mike.

“Unfortunately, I had no way of knowing whether the statement [Holly] gave to police on the date of the incident was the truth and she was now lying out of fear, or whether her new statement was the truth,” Warecki said. 

Complicated matters

L. Phillips Runyon III, who was a district judge in Jaffrey for 27 years and is still a practicing attorney in Peterborough, said domestic violence cases are often complicated.

He said about half of the cases he saw come across his desk during his tenure were dropped. Many don’t make it to trial because it’s difficult to get victims to testify. That could be because the victim had moved beyond the incident, or decided they don’t want to pursue it anymore because it may split up the family.

“And so either they don’t appear at all for the trial, or they make it clear to the prosecutor that they don’t want to testify,” Runyon said.

When that happens, the prosecutor is left without any way of proving the charge and so they either withdraw it or the defendant makes a motion to dismiss the charge and it’s granted because there’s no evidence. He said it’s generally easier to get people to testify in simple assault cases.

“If it’s not a family situation, but it’s just between people who got into an argument or a fight at a bar or someplace like that. I would say they are more likely to testify in cases like that then they are in the family situations,” Runyon said.

Robin Christopherson, executive director of the Monadnock Center for Violence and Prevention, said victims of domestic violence deal with situations in a variety of ways. Some victims cut ties with the aggressor, some don’t. Some pursue legal action, others don’t.

“There’s no gold standard for domestic violence. There’s a misconception that they need to flee or they need to file a charge, but that’s being perpetuated by the people who aren’t living through it,” Christopherson said.

She said in the case of a stabbing or a gunshot wound (any criminal act) the aggressor needs to be held accountable. But other abuse enters a gray area and is really up to the victim on how they want to proceed.

When it comes to pursuing legal action if a victim is really fearful of moving through the court process, “why are we forcing it on them?” she said. 

The night in May

The argument broke out May 10, 2016, after Mike had asked Holly to feed the dogs. When he arrived home, she hadn’t done what he asked.

“When I came into the living room I said, ‘Did anyone feed the dogs?’ The answer was, ‘no,’” Frosch said in district court. “My next question was, ‘So what have you leeches been doing all day?’”

Frosch told the court that Holly and her friend had been at the house for weeks, “doing nothing.” After Frosch said the word “leeches,” he said, Holly got up in his face and started swearing.

He said he left the room at that point to feed the dogs.

“I walked back in the living room and said, ‘I’ll solve this problem.’ I dumped the TV, and told Holly she needed to leave,” Frosch said. “The girls freaked out. And I was yelling, but I was not violent.”

He said he threw stuff out the window, too, but that “most everything” belonged to him, to begin with.

Officer Juan Lluberes, who was with the Antrim Police Department at the time, was dispatched to a property after a neighbor called in the potential domestic situation.

When he arrived, clothing and furniture were being thrown out of a second-story window. Not long after he rolled up, Lluberes said he saw two women run out of the house in hysterics.

One of the women was Holly, and she told the officer that her dad was “freaking out.” She told Lluberes her dad had a gun. With that information, Lluberes said he unholstered his firearm and entered the house. In the kitchen, he saw Mike’s wife, Stephanie.

“I asked her, ‘Where is your husband?’” Lluberes said in court. “To which she stated, ‘He’s been drinking, what do you expect?’”

Mike came down the stairs not long after. Lluberes said he pointed his gun at Mike and told him to put his hands in the air. Frosch complied. Lluberes said he instructed Frosch to go leave the house. He complied.

Once Mike was outside, Lluberes said he recounted what happened without any probing. He said Mike told him that he had pushed Holly to the ground because she, “got in his face.”

“[Frosch] stated that he will not allow Holly to talk back to me and then he went on to state that she does not have that right in my house,” Lluberes told the court.

Holly later showed Lluberes scratch marks on her left wrist and right hand.

With the information, Lluberes made the arrest.

In court, Lluberes said Holly told him that night that, “(Mike) pushed me, after destroying everything.”

Lluberes felt that constituted domestic violence.

Mike interprets it differently.

“The fact of the matter is there was no assault,” Mike said. “When Holly came at me and grabbed me, I simply pushed her back and I said this at the time, ‘Don’t be stupid.’”

Frosch said there was a puppy in the house, which explains away the scratches.

“Other than me keeping her from starting combat with me, there was no assault,” he said.

The case was tried in Hillsborough where Mike was found guilty of the domestic violence charge. He was sentenced to pay $620 in fines, and asked to complete an anger management, and alcohol evaluation. A criminal mischief-vandalism charge was dropped due to lack of evidence.

He appealed shortly after.

‘A witch hunt’

There was evidence, Warecki said, that Mike had bought Holly a car and was supporting her newborn child between the time of the incident and the superior court trial, which were separated by nearly a year.

Warecki couldn’t prove the items had swayed Holly’s decision to change her story.

Lester said he too has suspicions that Holly lied to the attorney.

“We don’t have 100 percent certainty that [Holly] told the truth (in superior court),” Lester said. “We speculate that it happened the way it was originally reported.”

He said there was a significant delay between when the original incident took place, the first trial, and the appeal. In that timeframe, things could have changed between the two, he said.

Again, there was no evidence that backed those suspicions up.

In an interview with the Ledger-Transcript, Stephanie called the whole process “utterly ridiculous” and a waste of time and resources.

Holly didn’t respond to a request for comment made by the Ledger-Transcript.

To Mike and Stephanie though, this case has been a waste of time and money.

Mike says he has poured hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into fighting the charge because even though he represented himself in district court, he hired an attorney to represent him in superior court. There have been taxpayer dollars spent on the officer responding to the call, testifying in court, and the local officer who picked Holly and Stephanie from their house in Antrim and drove them to Manchester after the judge issued orders to do so.

“It’s been a total waste of resources,” Stephanie said. ” … “It seems like a witch hunt, and I’m like, ‘you have bigger fish to fry than arresting Mike Frosch.’”

Abby Kessler can be reached at 972-7172 at ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.