• eirish

Ex-Franklin College president waives right to hearing for child porn charges

Arraignment hearing scheduled for Oct. 6


By Erica Irish

Erica.Irish@franklincollege.edu


STURGEON BAY, Wis. — Fired Franklin College president Thomas Minar waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday to review 12 counts of child pornography possession brought against him by Wisconsin law enforcement.

Minar was first arrested Jan. 6 at a McDonald’s restaurant in Sturgeon Bay, a resort town in Door County, Wisconsin. Police said he intended to meet an undercover police officer he believed to be a 15-year-old child after chatting with the officer on the dating app Grindr. Court documents show Minar exchanged sexually explicit messages and photos with the officer before meeting in person.

When arrested, police charged him with using a computer to facilitate a sex crime, child enticement and exposing a child to harmful materials and narrations. Minar told police during his arrest he intended to be a mentor to the child, and that he was seeking “conversation, education and friendship,” according to court records.

Police released Minar from custody on a $7,500 bond. He made a few court appearances throughout the winter and spring, but several court hearings were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police added the 12 counts of child pornography possession in March after a search of Minar’s personal phone allegedly revealed several videos and photos of children involved in sex acts. Police said they also discovered Minar participated in a public chat group on the messaging app Kik in 2018, where members are accused of exchanging child pornography and sharing sexual fantasies. One member claimed to be 14 years old, according to the criminal complaint.

Each of the 12 charges of child pornography possession is a Class D Felony in Wisconsin, carrying a minimum three years in prison for each. The maximum sentence is 25 years in prison for each.

An attorney for Minar declined to answer questions about Thursday’s status hearing. But when Minar chose to waive his right to a preliminary hearing in Feburary for the initial charges, attorney Brett Reetz said Minar maintains his innocence. Reetz said at the time waiving a preliminary hearing has nothing to do with someone’s guilt or innocence, as those hearings are for the state to show probability a crime was committed.

The Franklin College Board of Trustees fired Minar in January after learning of the arrest and the charges against him. Within a week, the board named long-time administrator and athletic director Kerry Prather acting president. The board later appointed Prather president and suspended a search to replace Minar that had started before his arrest and firing.

The college started an internal investigation in January but has revealed no details about any findings. Speaking through a college spokesperson, Board of Trustees Chair James Due confirmed this investigation continues but declined to comment on progress. Due said in an email statement the investigation will not be completed, nor will the college comment on the investigation, “until the criminal matters are resolved.”

Minar is scheduled to have an arraignment hearing at 1:30 p.m. CST Oct. 6, where he is expected to formally enter a plea on the charges.



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