The president of Franklin College, a liberal arts school in Indiana, was fired after the university learned that he had been arrested in Wisconsin on suspicion of sexual crimes involving children, the university said in a statement Monday.
“Over the weekend, Franklin College left the employment of President Thomas J. Minar when we realized a deeply disturbing incident,” the statement said.
He said the Sturgeon Bay Police Department told the university via email that Mr. Minar was arrested this month in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, on suspicion of sexual crimes against children. The statement said Mr. Minar had confirmed to university officials that he had been arrested after they found out.
Door County District Attorney in Sturgeon Bay, Colleen Nordin, said in an email on Tuesday that a criminal complaint had not yet been filed, adding that “early charges include attempts to attract children and expose a child to harmful materials. “
Mr. Minar’s lawyer, Brett Reetz, said Mr. Minar had been in Sturgeon Bay taking care of his mother and that he had established an online relationship in the Grindr dating application with a person who said he was 19 years old. That person, according to Mr. Reetz, was actually an undercover agent of the Sturgeon Bay Police Department.
After the online discussions became sexual, Reetz said, the person with whom Mr. Minar had been communicating said he was really 15 years old, and Mr. Minar’s attitude about the relationship changed. The two agreed to meet for the first time at a McDonald’s, where Mr. Minar was arrested, he said.
“There was no intention of having sex,” Reetz said. “There was a concern on Thomas’s part about the difficulties of leaving.”
“There is no doubt that he is deeply humiliated and ashamed of the accusations,” he said, adding that 56-year-old Minar had been preparing to resign after the arrest, because he was “aware of what the implications for Franklin College would be.
Lieutenant Clint Henry of the Sturgeon Bay police said the department had no comments on the case because it was an “active investigation.” Police also said the arrest report had not been made public for that reason.
Ms. Nordin said Mr. Minar was arrested on January 6 and that the court determined during a bond hearing the next day that there was “probable cause” to grant him jurisdiction.
The university said that Minar had been released on bail, subject to no direct contact with minors without supervision and without use of social networks.
Mr. Minar did not respond to telephone messages.
He was scheduled to resign as president of Franklin, a small private university of liberal arts about 32 km from downtown Indianapolis. as of June 30 of this year, according to the statement. The university has begun an investigation of his conduct as president, a position he has held since July 2015, and is seeking a replacement, he said.
“The board of directors of Franklin College is surprised by this event,” the statement said.