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Todd Richard Franik

Duluth man gets 30 years in abduction, assault case

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The Duluth man who grabbed a 13-year-old girl walking her dog near her West Duluth home, put her and her dog in his trunk, transported them to Jay Cooke State Park where he molested her, duct-taped her mouth and her dog's mouth shut, and left her taped to a tree was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday.

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Todd Richard Franik received a longer-than-guideline sentence from U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank. The sentencing guidelines based on Franik's criminal history and the crime he committed against the girl called for a term of 21 to 27 years in prison.

Frank said the court rejected Franik's argument that methamphetamine made him commit the crime. Frank said among the factors he considered in imposing the sentence was the peace and serenity that the defendant took not just from the girl and her family but from the entire community, and that -- based on his record and psychological reports -- he was a high risk to reoffend. The judge said that defendant inflicted "extraordinary trauma'' on a little girl and her family.

Franik, 41, pleaded guilty in November to one count of interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Frank ordered that after Franik's release from prison he will be supervised by probation the rest of his life. The court said that it appears that the defendant will serve his time in a federal prison in Texas where he can receive sex offender treatment.

Franik wiped tears from his eyes as he addressed the court, wearing a Detroit Lions football jersey. He said he had been up most of the night. He said he had never done anything like that before and couldn't believe he did it. He said there was nothing he wouldn't do to take it back, including taking his own life. He said she was an innocent girl.

"I hope I didn't cause any damage,'' he said. The judge interjected: "I think you probably did."

In her statement to police, the victim said that a white man in a light-colored car pulled over and opened the hood and trunk as if he were having car problems about 3 p.m. on Aug. 2. He asked her for directions to the Duluth zoo. The victim was bound and gagged and she and her dog were forced into the suspect's trunk before he drove into Wisconsin and back into Minnesota before stopping in a wooded area about a mile south of the Mont Du Lac Recreation/Ski Area along Highway 23, near the Spruce Trail entrance to Jay Cooke State Park.

After beginning to sexually assault the girl, Franik stated that he said, "I can't do this," and left the scene with the girl still taped to the tree. The victim reportedly twisted and chewed through the duct tape and made her way to a business in Superior Township, from where authorities were called. The defendant was arrested by Duluth police without incident the next day.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Steinkamp argued for the 30-year sentence. He said a psychological evaluation indicated that compared to other sex offenders, Franik was two times more likely to reoffend. The prosecutor told the court that Franik's past reads like a criminology textbook case on crime escalation. He said Franik started as a boy stealing cars and ATVs before moving on to burglaries, physical assaults, pointing a gun in someone's face and demanding money to robbing an 89-year-old man.

Steinkamp credited the courage of the girl for saving herself. He said she was not only a victim, "she was a victor."

Franik was sentenced in 1993 to 235 months in prison after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. In March of this year he tested positive for methamphetamine and was cited for a violation of his federal probation. The court sentenced Franik to time already served for violation of his supervised release because of that crime.

Defense attorney Manny Atwal argued that Franik deserved a 20-year sentence. In her sentencing memorandum, Atwal wrote that Franik was high on methamphetamine and remembers only part of the afternoon of the crime. She wrote that if her client had one wish in this world, it would be to take back his actions of Aug. 2. If he had a second wish, it would be to go back in time when his family was intact and his father was not in prison. She said that her client was in ninth grade when his father was sent to prison and Franik no longer felt obligated to follow rules.

According to a court document, Franik dropped out of school halfway through 10th grade and ranked 325th in a class of 325.

Atwal said factors the court should consider in granting some leniency to her client were that at he didn't use a weapon against the girl, he hadn't committed a prior sexual assault, he took responsibility for the crime by pleading guilty almost immediately and he stopped the act against the girl.

Steinkamp countered that Franik didn't need a weapon. The victim weighed less than 100 pounds. The defendant used his vehicle, his age and his size as weapons against the victim, the prosecutor argued.

The girl's parents read victim impact statements to the court. They said the incident has taken away their family's sense of security. Two other children have been affected by the crime, they said. "It was the most horrible day in my and my family's life,'' the father said.

The victim's family thanked Steinkamp and law enforcement, including Duluth police, the St. Louis, Douglas and Carlton County sheriff's offices and the FBI, for their work on the case.

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