Just hours ago, I learned that Jan Harzan, the Executive Director of MUFON, had been arrested on a number of felony charges. He is accused of soliciting a minor “for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.” The Huntington Beach Police Department said that Harzan had been communicating with a girl he believed to be thirteen.
According to the police, “"On July 3, detectives contacted a male by the name of Jan Harzan after Harzan solicited sexual activity from a detective he believed was a 13 year old girl. The suspect [Harzan] solicited the minor to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, and when the suspect agreed to meet the supposed minor, detectives were there to take him into custody. [Harzan was] arrested for multiple felonies and transported to the Huntington Beach Jail [for] specifically targeting minor females online."
Harzan had been the Executive Director of MUFON since 2013 and had shifted the direction of the organization from a more active, scientific investigation of UFOs to one that seemed to have a more business-oriented mission.
In recent years, after the retirement of Andrus, MUFON had several international directors and in 2013, Harzan took over as the Executive Director. He changed the look of the MUFON Journal from a magazine that dealt with UFO sightings, investigations and controversies to one that focused on glitz with very little real substance.
In 2018, John Ventre, then the Pennsylvania State Director, a member of MUFON’s “Inner Circle,” and a promoter of UFO symposium in the northeast US, was fired after a Facebook posting that was little more than a racist rant. Ventre said that it was in response to the promos for a television program that seemed to portray white Americans in a very negative light. Harzan’s response was tepid at best but under pressure, he eventually fired Ventre.
The episode resulted in several state directors resigning because of the lack of a swift response. And just last month another state director made a number of comments posted to a number of racist comments on his Facebook page.
This latest is just another in a long list of missteps. Members of the Inner Circle also made racist comments. Membership in the Inner Circle was based on a yearly contribution of five grand to the organization. In recent years, a number of them have dropped out because of past comments and beliefs.
This latest blow, given the serious nature of the accusations, does not bode well for MUFON. Some of the members I have communicated with in the last few hours have suggested this might mean the end of MUFON. I was told, “This is awful for MUFON.”
I will be interviewing Rob Swiatec, a member of the MUFON Board of Directors for my radio show/podcast. I’ll post a link to it as soon as it is available.