Buzzword alert: Inclusivity. Diversity. Pedophile.
Ok, so that last one isn’t exactly a buzzword, but it is what an Indiana liberal arts college got when it hired a president by following the guidelines of the first two.
Thomas Minar, 56-years-old, was the President of Franklin College in Indiana. He was arrested last week in connection to sex crimes involving a child.
Minar is the school’s first openly gay president and was hired in 2015.
Police were able to arrest Minar based on text and phone app conversations between him and an undercover officer. The messages were sent on an app called Grindr, which is a dating site geared towards the gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Undercover police exchanged messages with Minar for a month prior to arresting him.
The arrest occurred in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, where Minar has been staying to care for his mother. It was here that he first started conversing with a person he believed to be a young man.
Minar’s attorney, Brett Reetz, said that Minar had arranged to meet the young man at a local McDonald’s restaurant on January 6. Instead, he came face to face with police officers and was arrested.
Reetz said that Minar maintains that he did not seek to meet the young man with the intention of having sex.
According to @AP Franklin College President Thomas Minar was arrested on child sex enticement on Jan. 6 & was released on $7,500 bond after a hearing the next day, with criminal charges expected .
A full week has gone by. How is it that his firing was only made public today?
— Mary Beth Schneider (@marybschneider) January 13, 2020
However, messages between Minar and the undercover officer tell a different story. These messages were full of “sexual overtones,” in the words of Reetz.
According to Reetz, Minar believed the young man to be 19-years-old when the relationship first began. But, he said, “as the online relationship developed, it became uncertain as to what age the person was.”
Reetz went on to say that he wasn’t sure the exact age that Minar believed the young man to be, only that he knew he was under the age of 18. But he’s “adamant” that he wasn’t intending to have sex with the boy.
Reetz told reporters, “It’s a situation where, if you take the government out of it, there’s no crime, it doesn’t occur. And there’s no real young man who was attempted to be victimized, and even if there was, my client’s adamant that there was no intent to do anything illegal.”
Oh, he’s adamant about it? Why didn’t you say so?
I, for one, am glad there wasn’t a “real young man” to be exploited and victimized, but the statement shows Reetz’ backwards thinking.
Reetz also commented on the fact that his client is gay. “It’s an unfortunate situation, because it certainly plays on people’s impulses. And given — especially in the homosexual community — given the anxiety, the social pressures, things like that, there’s an increased vulnerability in that community.”
JUST IN: President of Franklin College arrested in Wisconsin.
Dr. Thomas Minar faces charges of use of computer to facilitate a sex crime, child enticement, & expose a child to harmful materials/narrations.
College calling situation "a deeply disturbing incident." pic.twitter.com/UMsHRwspAf
— Lindsey Eaton (@LindseyEatoNews) January 13, 2020
I can’t be certain, because it’s a very poorly worded and confusing statement, but I think Reetz is implying that Minar allowed his impulses (for the past month) to take over because the gay community has more anxiety and social pressures than heterosexuals, which makes them more vulnerable to commit crimes when said impulses are indulged.
I reached out to ask Mr. Reetz to clarify his comment but have not yet heard back at the time of this writing.
In 2015, Minar was asked in an interview if Franklin hiring him as an openly gay president “says something bigger about the college and about America today.”
Minar’s response was, “It definitely does. It says that some labels just don’t matter at Franklin College and that the Franklin community is committed to being inclusive and diverse. In a broader sense, it says something about the power of inclusion everywhere. Diversity strengthens community and strengthens decision-making. Quickly, gay and lesbian folk are finding more and more environments in which our sexual orientation doesn’t have to label us.”
Minar faces charges including use of a computer to facilitate a sex crime, child enticement and exposing a child to harmful materials/narrations.
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He had been released on bond since his arraignment. He has been ordered to have no “direct contact with minors unless supervised,” and to stay off of social media. No mention has been made of Minar’s husband, Dr. Frank S. Becker, who is 52-years-old.
Reetz reported that Minar called the school to offer his resignation in light of the charges. However, Franklin College Director of Communications Deidra Baumgardner reported that Minar was instead terminated.
Baumgardner stated that he was fired as soon as the school “became aware of a deeply disturbing incident. The College was made aware of, and Dr. Minar confirmed, his recent arrest in Wisconsin. The College was notified of the arrest from an email from the Sturgeon Bay Police Department.”
Baumgardner also said that Franklin’s Board of Trustees Executive Committee “felt it was necessary to fire Minar immediately.”
In a statement, the school said, “The safety of Franklin students is always our highest priority. To that end, the College has launched an investigation concerning Dr. Minar’s conduct while President. While there are systems already in place, additional resources will be engaged to continue to provide our students a safe, confidential means to report incidents of inappropriate behavior.”
Jim Due, chair of the board, told reporters, “The safety of our campus community – especially our students – is always our first priority. We are deeply shocked and gravely concerned by the reported behavior of Dr. Minar that led to his arrest in Wisconsin, and we will continue to cooperate fully with authorities.”
Several students commented on their disbelief of the situation and Minar’s arrest.
One, Tyler Placke, said, “He always did this thing, during our winter term, where it would be tea with the president and stuff, so we were in his house talking with him. Everyone’s reaction is like, ‘Holy cow!’ I didn’t think this would happen, you know.”
Well, Tyler, I guess that should have been the school’s first clue. We’d venture out on a limb in a claim that no normal college administrator, gay or not, would invite students into his home for tea. Lesson learned.