Undercover officer used Grindr app to lure in former Franklin College president, court docs say

Crime

Thomas J. Minar

STURGEON BAY, Wis. — Court documents have revealed new details in the sex crime-related arrest of former Franklin College President Thomas J. Minar, who was fired once the college was notified of his arrest.

On January 6, an officer with the Sturgeon Bay Police Department began an Internet Crimes Against Children investigation.

He set up an undercover profile on a mobile device application called Grindr, which describes itself as “the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people.” The profile used a screen name of “Tyler,” did not feature a photo and displayed an age of 19 years old.

Around 1:30 p.m. that same day, the officer began an undercover chat investigation utilizing the “Tyler” profile.

“Tyler” chatted with a profile by the name of “Top4yngr4fun” which was later found to be operated by Minar, according to court documents. Minar’s profile listed an age of 53 and his biography read in part, “Enjoy the company of younger men.”

“Tyler” and Minar chatted for several hours. During that time, “Tyler” told Minar that he is actually 15 years old, to which Minar responded, “Very cool.” Minar would go on to send “Tyler” numerous sexually explicit messages, including exposing photos of himself and questions about “Tyler’s” genitals, court documents show.

At one point, “Tyler” proposed continuing the conversation via text message, to which Minar responded, “I’d love to but it would be bad if anyone found texts from me on your phone…”

Eventually, Minar suggested the two meet, and they agreed to get together at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant to “hang out.”

After arrangements were made, a team of officers was assembled to conduct surveillance at the McDonald’s to see if the suspect would show up. Once in place, “Tyler” continued to chat with Minar to determine if he had arrived and what type of vehicle he was driving.

Shortly after 8:30 p.m., Minar sent messages that indicated he had arrived. He described his vehicle to “Tyler” and stated where he was parked.

Officers made contact with the vehicle and placed Minar under arrest.

While seated in the back seat of a police squad car, Minar said that he met with “Tyler” to be a “friend” and to be his “mentor,” according to court documents. He denied that anything sexual would have occurred had the 15-year-old shown up at McDonald’s.

Minar was taken to the Door County Jail, where he agreed to an interview with the undercover officer. During the interview, Minar admitted to knowing that he was communicating with a 15-year-old high school student. He said he chatted with “Tyler” because he was curious and bored. When asked about the sexually explicit messages, Minar said that to him it was “fantasy chat,” court documents show.

At one point, Minar stated, “Yes, I’m 56 years old. Yes, I’m attracted to young males.”

Minar would go on to claim that he is normally attracted to young adult men and has never been sexually interested in children. He said that the purpose of his “fantasy chat” was “sexual curiosity,” and that he would have drawn a line between a sexually explicit chat and having sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy.

When asked about what police might find on his cell phone, Minar stated that it was unlikely that officers would find child pornography, but if child pornography was found on his phone, it would be from pornography sites he cannot control, according to court documents.

The documents state that Minar would not answer certain questions or would resort back to this having been a “fantasy chat.”

He also told the officer, “I’ve been with 18-year-olds.”

Franklin College has launched its own investigation into Minar’s conduct while he was president.

Minar is facing felony charges of child enticement, use a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and exposing a child to harmful material.

His court date is scheduled for January 27.

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