A man who hosted a popular children’s TV show in Louisiana in the 1970s but then fled amid child sex abuse charges has been arrested in San Diego.
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Update: Bail Hearing Scheduled for ‘Mr. Wonder’
October 3, 2016 – A bail hearing has been set for Frank Selas, the former Louisiana children’s TV show host known as “Mr. Wonder,” according to ABC News. State District Judge Mary Doggett will consider November 3 the motion for bail that Selas’ attorney made several weeks ago.
What’s the problem?
February 1, 2016 – Frank John Selas III allegedly fled from Louisiana to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1979 after learning that an arrest warrant had been issued amid allegations that he sexually abused at least 7 children during a camping retreat, according to CBS News. Police said the alleged victims ranged in age from 5 to 11-years-old. The now 76-year-old Selas spent several years hosting the ‘Mr. Wonder’ show on Louisiana’s KNOE-TV.
During the 1980s, police say he returned to the states using different aliases, spending time in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Illinois and California. Last month, detectives learned that Selas had legally changed his name to Frank Szeles and was living in Bonita, Ca., a suburb of San Diego County.
After federal agents arrested him, he denied to a judge that he was Frank John Selas III. Back in Louisiana, however, investigators are certain they’ve got their man, but are worried he may have preyed on other children during his 37 years on the lam.
“It’s absolutely shocking the level of access that this guy had to children, even now,” said Steve Jurman, supervisory deputy U.S. marshal in San Diego. “If there’s a playbook for pedophiles, he checked off every single box.”
Selas once served as a Cub Scouts pack leader in Bonita, but was removed from the position several years ago after failing to comply with the organization’s “youth protection policies and procedures,” according to statement by the Boy Scouts of America to NBC 7. The man was also was removed from “all positions related to children” at his Mormon congregation in San Diego for failing to comply with “child protection policies,” according to a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Selas has been charged with 2 counts of obscene behavior with a juvenile and remains in jail in San Diego without bail. He is due in court February 11 for a hearing to establish his identity.
Hearing Sought in Mr. Wonder Abuse Case
August 12, 2016 – Frank Selas’ defense attorney filed a motion Wednesday seeking an evidentiary hearing regarding a 1994 phone call someone placed to the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office, asking whether the charges against him were still active and if he would face prosecution if caught. Selas’ defense team has sought information on the call, including who answered it, who had knowledge of the call, any recordings or notes of it and what efforts were undertaken to discover the identity of the caller. The caller apparently identified himself as a California attorney, according to The Town Talk.
‘Mr. Wonder’ Attorneys Seek to Bar Testimony from Jailhouse Snitches
June 9, 2016 – A hearing scheduled for next Monday will cover several motions filed by attorneys for Frank John “Mr. Wonder” Selas III , including one to prevent the creation of snitch testimony, according to USA Today. Another motion seeks information on a 1994 phone call made to the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office about the case. Selas is being held without bond and in isolation in the Rapides Parish Detention Center III.
Selas Arraigned on Rape Charges
May 16, 2016 – Frank Selas has been extradited from the San Diego County Jail to the Rapides Parish Detention Center in Louisiana, and is due in court today to be arraigned on rape charges, according to the New York Daily News. In February, Selas was indicted on 2 counts of aggravated rape, 3 counts of sexual battery and 8 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile. Selas is being held in isolation while he awaits trial, according to the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office.
‘Mr. Wonder’ to Face Child Abuse Charges in Louisiana
May 4, 2016 – Frank Selas has been cleared to return to Louisiana where he will face child molestation charges, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Selas waived his right to file a writ that would challenge a governor’s warrant seeking his extradition, and is expected to be picked up by Louisiana authorities by the end of the month. A San Diego Superior Court judge scheduled a review hearing for May 24 to ensure that he has been picked up, according to Deputy District Attorney Richard Madruga.
Papers Filed to Extradite Selas
March 30, 2016 – The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office has submitted all necessary paperwork to begin extradition proceedings for Frank Selas, also known as Mr. Wonder, according to KNOE 8 News. They say a governor’s warrant and other documents have been sent to California for approval. A status hearing will be held this Friday to begin the extradition process.
‘Mr. Wonder’ Thought Arrest Warrants Weren’t Valid
March 8, 2016 – John Frank Selas III thought a pair of 1979 arrest warrants for molesting young boys on a camping trip at Valentine Lake in Louisiana were a thing of the past, according to The Town Talk. After his arrest on Jan. 25, Selas told U.S. marshals that he’d hired an attorney and private investigator to make sure the warrants were no longer valid. A few days later, he claimed in a California courtroom that he wasn’t Selas at all. He’s since been indicted on 2 counts of aggravated rape, 3 counts of sexual battery and 8 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile. Now the focus is on processing an extradition warrant to bring Selas back to Louisiana to face the charges.
Mr. Wonder Indicted on Rape Charges
February 25, 2016 – 76-year-old Frank John Selas III was indicted today on 2 counts of aggravated rape, 3 counts of sexual battery and 8 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, according to FOX News. Rapides Parish Assistant District Attorney Brian Mosley said the charges relate to 1 alleged victim, who testified before a central Louisiana grand jury. District Attorney Phillip Terrell said Selas could face additional charges beyond those named in today’s indictment.
“I’m aware of the possibility of another victim arising out of the same incident,” Terrell said of the 1979 camping trip to Kisatchie National Forest in central Louisiana in which Selas is alleged to have molested several young boys.
Identity of ‘Mr. Wonder’ Confirmed
February 11, 2016 – The man arrested last month in Bonita is indeed Frank John Selas III, the one-time Louisiana television personality known as ‘Mr. Wonder’ who went on the run 37 years ago to avoid facing child molestation charges, a San Diego judge has ruled. During a court hearing today, the man argued that he was not Selas, but prosecutors had enough evidence to prove that he was, according to CBS News 8.
The San Diego County Deputy District Attorney’s office now has 90 days to secure a governor’s warrant from Louisiana, which will clear the way for Selas to return to face charges. A review hearing is scheduled for February 26 in San Diego.
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