The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) has permanently removed its executive director Jan Harzan.
On July 14, I received a message from my friend Audrey Rowden who lives in Huntington Beach, California. She had just received an alert from the local police department about recent incidents involving online crimes against children. She brought this alert to my attention because one of the two recent incidents highlighted involved Jan Harzan.
The Huntington Beach Police Department details:
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 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.
I’ve known Jan for years, and had plenty of in-person interactions with him. He was always kind to me, and, from outward appearances, he seemed like a good guy. After learning of his arrest, I wasn’t sure if it was my place to broadcast the news to the world. But this wasn’t some unsubstantiated rumor. The news came directly from the Huntington Beach Police Department. So, after consulting with a couple colleagues, I decided this disgusting news needed to be shared with the UFO community, and the world. After all, the arrest took place on July 3, and nobody seemed to know about it yet. So I posted the news on social media. An article by MJ Banias and Anna Merlan was published on Vice shortly after. The news spread like wildfire.
Again, it seemed like nobody was aware of this arrest that took place 11 days prior. So it caught everybody by surprise. And I’m sure that goes for MUFON as well.
A message from the board of directors was posted to MUFON’s Facebook page at 10:19 p.m.
In light of recent events, Jan Harzan has been permanently removed as the Executive Director of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).
Effective immediately, he will no longer serve any role in the organization.
David MacDonald, Executive Director Emeritus and a member of the MUFON Board of Directors, will now assume the duties of Executive Director. MUFON remains committed to its core mission: the study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity. This mission is greater than any one person or member of MUFON and supersedes all other considerations. We will continue to move forward and focus on our mission statement.
As with Harzan, I’ve known Dave MacDonald for years. He was Jan’s predecessor, serving as MUFON’s executive director in an interim capacity from 2012-2013. My in-person interactions with Dave have always been good, and he’s always struck me as a funny, happy, kind individual. But this move by MUFON to elevate him to executive director again in response to the current situation is a bad call, in my opinion. Why? Well, Dave is a colorful character. He operates Flamingo Air, Inc. Part of this air carrier operation includes an academy, which is reportedly the largest FAA approved Aircraft Dispatcher Certification School in the country. But another part of Flamingo Air caters to those who want to “join the mile-high club,” so to speak. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with two consenting adults wanting to get freaky in an airplane. The problem I see here is that, it just seems misguided for MUFON to oust a director arrested for soliciting a minor for sex, and replace him with an individual whose business is related to sex.
The reputation of this long-standing UFO organization has noticeably been tarnished in recent years. From its failures to address overt racism and sexism within the organization, to the current embarrassment of discovering that its executive director was “arrested for multiple felonies” for “specifically targeting minor females online,” it’s clear that MUFON has major organizational issues to address. These problems are likely what led MUFON to add an inclusivity statement to its site on June 18: “MUFON does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry). disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations; We believe in a totally inclusive environment.”
What’s noticeably lacking from the statement issued by the board of directors is any specific condemnation or public outrage at Harzan’s actions. There’s no, “MUFON is shocked to learn of this sick news and condemns these actions.” So will MUFON finally decide to take strong, public action to address its deep-rooted problems? Or will it move past this latest issue and continue with business as usual?
This historic UFO organization is a long-standing fixture in the UFO community. I’d hate to see it dissolve. But, if the organization doesn’t take a hard look at itself and realize that major change is needed, then I’m happy to watch it crumble.