February 1, 2016 — Authorities in San Diego have arrested a man they believe is “Mr. Wonder,” a children’s TV show personality who was accused of sexually abusing seven children in Louisiana and evaded capture for another 37 years.
WRAL reports that the 76 year-old man, Frank Szeles, was living in an affluent suburb of Bonita where neighbors say children frequently visited his home and swam in his pool throughout the summer.
Szeles was active in many organizations where he had access to children, including Cub Scouts pack leader, teaching Sunday school for a Mormon congregation, and PTA president at a nearby elementary school.
He also ran Szeles Enterprises, a company that organized swimming lessons and Saturday field trips for boys between 5 and 11 years old. The Chula Vista Elementary School District is investigating whether he had access to schoolchildren.
Years before his arrest, Szeles was banned from positions related to children at his Mormon congregation for failing to comply with “child protection policies” after a parent complained about his behavior. Szeles was also Cubmaster of Pack 888 in Bonita, but he was removed from Scouting for “non-compliance with youth protection policies” after another parent expressed concern, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities believe Szeles changed his name to after moving to San Diego and was formerly Frank John Selas, host of the “Mr. Wonder” children’s show on KNOE-TV in Louisiana in the 1970s.
Investigators say he sexually abused at least seven children during a camping trip to the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana, but fled after authorities obtained a warrant for his arrest. Because Szeles eluded capture for nearly 40 years, authorities are concerned that he may have victimized more children.
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