Posted by Melissa Burlaga
A 41-year-old Duluth man has been indicted in federal court in St. Paul for allegedly taking a 13-year-old girl across state lines with the intent to sexually abuse her.
The indictment, which was filed earlier today, charges Todd Richard Franik with one count of interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
The indictment alleges that on August 2, 2010, Franik abducted the girl and took her from Minnesota to Wisconsin.
According to a law enforcement affidavit filed in this case, Franik abducted the girl in Duluth at about 3 p.m. on August 2, 2010.
While walking a small dog, the girl purportedly passed a parked car, its hood up.
The man standing near the vehicle, later identified as Franik, asked the girl for directions to the zoo but then allegedly grabbed her and the dog and forced them into the trunk of the car.
Next, Franik allegedly drove the car around for 15 to 20 minutes, crossing into Wisconsin and back into Minnesota, before stopping in a wooded area and removing both the child and the dog from the trunk.
The affidavit states that while in the woods, Franik engaged in sexual conduct with the child.
Following those actions, he used duct tape to wrap the child’s hands and feet and secure her to a fallen tree.
He also allegedly tore his shirt, stuffed the cloth into her mouth, and then covered her mouth with more duct tape, after which he supposedly taped the dog’s mouth shut too.
Once Franik drove away from the scene, the child was able to twist and chew her way through the duct tape.
She then made her way to a business in Superior, Wisconsin, from where authorities were called.
While law enforcement officers worked to recover evidence from the woods, including scraps of duct tape and fresh shoe prints, they observed a car matching the description of the vehicle used in the alleged crime.
The car reportedly drove past the investigators several times on a nearby highway.
Tracing the vehicle’s license plate number, police were led to a Duluth parking lot.
There, they found the car and placed it under surveillance.
During the early afternoon of August 3, 2010, they reportedly observed Franik approach the vehicle and open the trunk.
Officers closed in and allegedly spotted duct tape and other evidence of the crime in the open trunk.
A subsequent search of Franik’s residence purportedly yielded shoes with a tread pattern that matched the shoe prints found in the woods. Franik was arrested without incident.
If convicted, Franik faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison, with a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years.
All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Duluth Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David P. Steinkamp.
An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant.
A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.