Ex-girlfriend of accused serial child predator hopes more girls find courage to come forward

Tianna Saltzman was the one who tipped police that her boyfriend, 19-year-old Julio Clauson, was allegedly driving hours across Minnesota and North Dakota to have sex with young teens he met through Snapchat.

"I had a lot of guilt. This was a guy I thought I knew. I should have seen the signs," said Tianna Saltzman.

That was her reaction when she found racy Snapchats on her boyfriend's account. She claims the conversations are proof Julio Clauson would lie about his age to arrange sex with girls as young as 13.

Saltzman claims Clauson, who lived in both the Fergus Falls and Duluth areas, would drive across Minnesota and even to Fargo.

"He was not afraid to drive hours to get what he wanted," said Saltzman.

Saltzman immediately turned over screenshots of the chats to police in St. Louis County after identifying two of the victims there. They were 14 and 15 years old.


Hibbing police said in court papers that Clauson admitted he sought out sex with young teens. They expect to find more victims.

Saltzman and Clauson have a 1-year-old daughter. That's one reason she said it was important to turn in her now ex-boyfriend. An arrest warrant was issued for Clauson on their daughter's first birthday.

"Being a mother, you are supposed to teach your children, and I wanted my daughter to look back at it and see her mom was strong enough to speak up about someone she cared about," Saltzman said.

She has been in contact with other alleged victims, she said. However, they have been hesitant to speak up. She hopes putting her story out there will help others find the courage to call police.

"They were afraid to come forward, especially being that young," Saltzman said, adding some victims are afraid their parents will be mad at them.

"It was almost embarrassing. I had a kid with him. I was in shock that he would do it," Saltzman said.

If convicted, Clauson faces up to 15 years in prison on the current charges in St. Louis County, but Saltzman isn't convinced that will be enough time.

"He doesn't care; he is one who will re-offend. He just really doesn't care," Saltzman said.


Clauson, 19, was arrested Saturday, July 10, after allegedly kidnapping two girls, ages 12 and 14, from a city park in Stephen, Minn.

Marshall County Sheriff Jason Boman said Clauson drove 150 miles from Otter Tail County to Stephen. He tracked them down after meeting one of the girls on the Snapchat app about a month ago.

After the two girls got in the car, Clauson sped away. Three other friends of the girls chased Clauson for nearly 20 miles — sometimes reaching speeds of 100 mph. Eventually, Clauson stopped and let the girls out along Highway 75, south of Warren.

He was arrested shortly after the girls got out of the car. He said very little other than that the girls got into his car willingly, Boman said.

Clauson was taken into custody by the Polk County Sheriff's Office for the warrants in St. Louis County. He is expected to face two counts of kidnapping from Marshall County.

He is also accused of using drugs and alcohol to take advantage of young girls. When he was arrested for the incident in Stephen, police said they found pot in his car.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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