Victims testify against man accused of lewd conduct with children during 'monster games' - East Idaho News
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Victims testify against man accused of lewd conduct with children during ‘monster games’

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Editor’s note: This story contains graphic content of a sexual nature. Reader discretion is advised.

POCATELLO — Three victims — one just 10 years old — testified Wednesday as the trial began for a man accused of physically, psychologically and sexually assaulting children.

Jurors occasionally stole glances at 54-year-old Todd Marshall Frandsen as four witnesses testified to a series of attacks that went on between 2009 and 2016.

Frandsen faces three counts of lewd conduct with a minor. He was arrested in August 2021 after Bannock County Sheriff’s detectives investigated allegations of sexual assault. That investigation was triggered after one of the victims called the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office.

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The trial began Wednesday morning with the testimony of one of the victims answering questions about Frandsen, who is a relative of the victims, intentionally scaring all of them.

According to the accounts of the two older victims — now adults — Frandsen would hide in their rooms — either in the closet or under the bed — before their bedtime. Then, once the victims began to fall asleep, he would make scratching noises or sinister voices to scare them. They were around 9 and 10 years old at the time.

Both victims said that Frandsen continued this “scary stuff,” which one of the victims referred to as the “monster games,” for several years.

In time, both victims said the games became “sexual in nature.”

“There were times where he would — there were times where he grabbed me on my genitalia and pulled me into the dark,” one of the victims said, fighting through emotions.

That same victim described one incident in which Frandsen straddled him, pinned him to his bed and held him down. When the boy was able to get part of his body loose, he turned to get away. But, he said, Frandsen grabbed him and began pushing himself onto the boy.

He said Frandsen had removed his own clothes during the struggle and was rubbing his genitals against the boy’s back.

He was “shocked” and “freaking out,” the victim remembered.

“I couldn’t — I was so, I guess, shocked at what was going on that I couldn’t scream,” he said.

The victim’s hands were shaking as he ran his fingers through his hair. Prosecuting attorney Erin Tognetti offered him reprieve from recounting the story by asking the victim what he did.

Like another victim who had already testified, he said that his fear of Frandsen had grown to the point that he kept a knife near his bed. The victim said he grabbed the knife and tried to hit Frandsen with it. He said he could not recall if the blade of the knife was exposed or not.

Frandsen caught his arm, the victim said, and squeezed it until he dropped the knife.

Like the other now-adult victim, he did not come forward about this or any other attack immediately. As he described, a mental block formed overnight, and he woke the next day having no memory of the incident.

Neither of the older victims spoke about it until the youngest victim spoke up.

The second victim to testify Wednesday, the boy — now 10 — recalled Frandsen rubbing his face in the boy’s genitals when he was around 4 years old.

Even the youngest victim did not report anything for years because, as he said, he thought it was normal.

Asked if the story he was now telling was in any way false, the boy responded:

“I would not want to make something up that is this big of a deal.”

The boy’s mother also testified, offering a timeline of the events as she had been told.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Ryan Black seemed to be setting a defense that the victims were being told to falsify allegations by relatives.

Black asked the victim’s mother about claims in an interview report from a child advocate that she “coached” her child throughout the interview. The mother said numerous times that the single line of the report was being taken out of the context of the report in its entirety.

She said the reports claimed she was coaching her son but later described the coaching as moral support for a child who she felt was facing a very difficult task. She was adamant that she never pushed her son to make the allegations or falsify any part of the story.

“I was hoping none of this was true,” she said.

Black also asked the first victim to testify about possibly creating the stories.

Having held his composure through most of his testimony, the victim finally did break down.

“Why would anybody make up something like this?” he asked, beginning to cry. “This isn’t easy to talk about — this isn’t something you just make up.”

Testimony from the four witnesses took up the first day of trial.

According to Bannock County Prosecutor Steven Herzog, this trial is expected to span four days, with the defense presenting its case Friday. will continue to report details from the case as it progresses.