Ex-Franklin College president to stand trial

Staff Reports

Franklin College’s former president will stand trial on alleged child sex crimes.

Thomas J. Minar, who last January was arrested, charged with child sex crimes and fired from his job as president of the college, appeared Wednesday via Zoom in Door County Circuit Court for another status conference, the third since October, when he pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.

The charges include 12 counts of possession of child pornography, using a computer to facilitate a sex crime and exposing a child to harmful narrations, stemming from an incident Jan. 6, 2020 in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

Minar refused a plea deal from prosecutors and will face a jury trial. The trial date was not set Wednesday, but could last five days, according to online court records.

“My position today was that the trial should only take two days. However, the Court is erring on the side of caution and setting it for five days at the request of the defense,” said Colleen Nordin, Door County District Attorney who is prosecuting the case.

Judge David L. Weber said because of COVID-19, there has not been a trial in Door County since January 2020. Minar’s trial likely won’t happen until sometime next year because of the backlog of trials waiting to be heard.

The jury will determine if Minar is guilty of the crimes, all felonies that carry a maximum sentence of 68 ½ years in prison if convicted on all counts and ordered to serve consecutive sentences for each, as well as up to $210,000 in fines.

Minar, 57, faced three charges initially, after he allegedly messaged an undercover police officer posing as a 15-year-old boy on the dating app Grindr.

Additional charges were added last March after Sturgeon Bay police searched his personal phone and found several photos and videos of child pornography. The investigating officer found several photos and videos of Minar and minors, according to court documents.

The officer also discovered a conversation between Minar and another man that went on for about two years. Those conversations included photos and videos of Minar and the man involved in sex acts. The two men also talked about having sex with minors, court documents said.

Minar has been living in Evanston, Illinois since he was released from jail Jan. 7, 2020 on $7,500 bond. No changes were made to that bond Wednesday, according to court records.

Minar’s next status conference is scheduled for June 10, court records show.