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TV star accused of molestation arrested in SD

Posted: 4:29 PM, Jan 26, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-27 22:53:49Z

A one-time Louisiana television personality, who was on the lam for 37 years after being accused of sexually assaulting children on a camping trip, was behind bars Tuesday in San Diego following his arrest near Chula Vista.

Frank John Selas, 76, was taken into custody Monday in the Bonita area, said John Poplawski, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, which apprehended the longtime fugitive.

In the 1970s, while hosting a children's program aired by a north Louisiana TV station, Selas periodically invited youngsters between the ages of 5 and 11 to take part in free camping weekends and other outdoor activities, according to USMS public affairs.

During one such trip in a wilderness area near Valentine Lake at Kisatchie National Forest, Selas -- who performed on his show as a magician dubbed "Mr. Wonder" -- allegedly molested several of the attending children.

As investigators were preparing to arrest him, Selas left town in his family's car, which turned up abandoned in Texas the following day, officials said.

According to KATC-TV in Lafayette, Louisiana, authorities believe Selas initially fled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In the early 1980s, he apparently returned to the United States and lived in a series of towns and cities, including Bonita; San Diego; Chicago; South Royalton, Vermont; Sheffield, Massachusetts; and his hometown of Darien, Connecticut, the station reported.

Selas is being held without bail pending a fugitive hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at the downtown San Diego courthouse.