TV personality ‘Mr. Wonder’ can be extradited after decades-long search

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Frank John Selas

SAN DIEGO — A one-time Louisiana television personality, who was on the run for 37 years after being accused of sexually assaulting children on a camping trip, waived his right Wednesday to challenge a governor’s warrant and can now be extradited back to that state.

Frank John Selas, 76, who performed on his television show as a magician dubbed “Mr. Wonder,” was arrested in late January in Bonita. An arrest warrant was issued in 1979.

In February, Selas was indicted by a grand jury in Rapides Parish, Louisiana, on two counts of aggravated rape, three counts of sexual battery and eight counts of felony indecent behavior with juveniles.

Selas fought extradition back to Louisiana, denying that he was the man sought in that state. A judge later ruled that Selas is the same man named in the 1979 arrest warrant.

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 the U.S. Marshals Service, which apprehended Selas.

During one such trip in a wilderness area near Valentine Lake at Kisatchie National Forest, Selas 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.

Authorities believe Selas was in Japan and Venezuela before the early 1980s, and eventually returned to the United States, living in Chicago, Connecticut and San Diego.

A review hearing was set for May 24 in San Diego Superior Court.