Former Cleveland Museum of Art Director David Franklin Resigns After Affair, Suicide; Cell Phone of Victim Missing

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Three days ago, Cleveland Museum of Art director David Franklin abruptly resigned, effective immediately, from his post at the prestigious organization for personal reasons.

Scene was the first to give a glance into those personal reasons last night: Franklin had an affair with a CMA staffer (whose name we will not use) and she committed suicide five months ago.

From conversations with those close to the young lady and the museum, we now know that trustees were well aware of the affair at least at the time of her death, and probably before. "An open secret," is how one person described the relationship, which began sometime around January 2012. Another source told us that Franklin's wife was well aware of his wandering eye.

The police report from night of the incident includes more than a few tidbits of information relevant to the story and more than a few tidbits that raise questions.

David Franklin himself was the one who discovered the young lady's body sometime around midnight that evening and made the calls to authorities. Cleveland Heights police responded.

There was no suicide note, according to the police report. The autopsy report notes cause of death as asphyxiation due to hanging. The death was ruled a suicide.

Franklin told investigators he received a text message earlier in the night at around 8 p.m. the night before (Saturday, April 27) which said the young lady was "depressed from work" He went to the apartment where, he relayed to authorities, he did not get an answer at the front door but found the back door unlocked.

The police report notes that two items — the woman's iPhone, from which she had texted Franklin the night before earlier in the evening, and a digital camera — were missing from the apartment and have not been found.

The Plain Dealer, whose publisher, Terry Egger, is a Cleveland Museum of Art trustee, has yet to report on the nature of the "personal reasons" detailed above, though a reporter at the paper does have the same copy of the police report that we do. Meanwhile, Steven Litt continues to publish glowing articles quoting museum spokespeople and trustees gushing about the future of the organization. Egger and Litt have yet to respond to requests for comment.

Know more? Contact sallard@clevescene.com.

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