Baton Rouge public relations consultant Rannah Gray revealed Monday that she was a confidential informant in a federal investigation into Scott Rogers, the local television personality whose death in a murder-suicide rocked Baton Rouge in August 2014 amid allegations he had sexually abused numerous children.
It was always unclear what tipped off the feds to look into Rogers, who was killed by his son-in-law Mathew Hodgkinson last year in St. Gabriel before Hodgkinson turned the gun on himself. About two weeks before their deaths, authorities took custody of Rogers’ 10-year-old adopted son and a 2-year-old boy he was in the process of adopting.
Hodgkinson and another man had moved to the United States with Rogers, a former dance school owner in England, along with his daughter. They eventually settled in Baton Rouge.
After the murder-suicide, a man who had lived with Hodgkinson and Rogers for years came forward to say the “Around Town” television host had abused him as a teenager. The man, who spoke with the Advocate under the condition his name not be disclosed, said he and Hodgkinson were students of Rogers in England. Both were sexually molested by Rogers and ended up living and working with him even as they grew into adulthood, the man said.
Gray said Monday to the Baton Rouge Press Club that the spark for an investigation into Rogers, who along with appearing on television and running a production company was the pastor of a small church, came from an email that she received in August 2013.
Her name came up in a web search because of two Advocate stories from 2011 that noted Gray’s public relations firm, Marmillion/Gray Media, reaped the benefits of many city-parish contracts. One story detailed disputes between Gray’s company and Rogers’ production company, 1stCo Inc.
Gray took issue with the story and responded in a letter to the editor, where she called out Rogers by name and defended her public relations firm.
“That letter would end one man’s 13-year international search for Scott Rogers,” she said, while promoting her new book about the Rogers case, “Familiar Evil.” The 500-plus page volume details her part in the investigation, while also shedding light on some of her relationships with Baton Rouge politicians.
A man who she refers to in her book as “Ethan” found her letter to The Advocate as he was trying to track down Rogers from the United Kingdom. Ethan emailed her and told her to take a harder look at Rogers, who had been on trial in the United Kingdom in 1996 for accusations of molesting children. That case ended with Rogers’ acquittal on one charge and a jury deadlocked on other charges.
“He was a dance principal of a school called The Academy of Dance and Performing Arts,” Ethan wrote in his first, original email. “The company and the individual were bad news...very bad news. He was accused of sexually abusing boys as young as 12.”
“I am extremely confident that he will still be abusing,” the email goes on to read. “He is a very clever nasty little man.”
Thus began Gray’s foray into investigating Rogers’ background, a process she said lasted 10 months.
Gray went to well-known Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney Nathan Fisher and paralegal Mary Jane Marcantel with the email, and started corresponding with Ethan on a near daily basis. Fisher died in January of 2015.
Ethan told Gray, Fisher and Marcantel that he was one of Rogers’ abuse victims, according to Gray.
They found Ethan credible and he told them that Rogers preyed on young boys at his competitive dance academy in England.
Gray and Marcantel worried about the children who resided in Rogers’ home.
They put in a public records request with the Department of Children and Family Services for a copy of Rogers’ application to become a foster parent in the state.
Marcantel said DCFS denied the public records request, and they disagreed about whether the documents fell under an exemption.
Gray and Marcantel said the state’s DCFS department is broken, and that Rogers never should have been able to adopt his children in Louisiana given his history in England.
A DCFS spokeswoman said Monday that she would not have an answer until Tuesday to an Advocate request for a clarification on why they denied the public records request and how Rogers was able to adopt his children. Last fall, DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier said the agency wasn’t aware of the abuse allegations because Rogers had changed his name from Richard Scott Rogers and his immigration paperwork hadn’t flagged any potential problems.
Gray said she, Marcantel and Fisher took their information to Lafayette-based Assistant U.S. Attorney John Walker, who could not be reached for comment Monday.
Walker connected them to a U.S. Postal Inspection Service agent, who began a federal investigation into whether he submitted fraudulent naturalization and adoption paperwork.
On the day a grand jury heard testimony related to the probe, Rogers, 52, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head in his St. Gabriel home. Rogers’ son-in-law Hodgkinson, through what Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi has described as a sham marriage to Rogers’ daughter, also incurred a gunshot wound inside their house and later succumbed to the injury in the hospital.
Law enforcement deemed it a murder-suicide, as Hodgkinson left notes for his wife, Kimberly Ann Scott-Rogers, and the 10-year-old boy he helped raise with Rogers.
Gray said she did not interview Rogers’ daughter for the book.
Efforts by The Advocate on Monday to reach Kimberly Ann Scott-Rogers were unsuccessful. She told The Advocate during the fall-out after the murder-suicide that she did not want to comment.
After his death, details began to spool out about Rogers’ double life. He had been known to many in Baton Rouge as a quirky television show host and frequent emcee at charity events. To some he was a man of faith, as he often preached at Unity Church of Christianity before starting his own church, 13:34 Church of Christianity, with Maria Edwards, who said she was inside of his home during the fatal shootings.
The church met in an adjacent space to the “Around Town” television studio in Cortana Mall, and once had about 62 members. Once Rogers’ studio closed, the church members started meeting randomly wherever people would let them.
Gray said she considers what happened to Hodgkinson the ultimate cruel act of what Rogers did, and called Rogers a “master manipulator.” She said he was smart and charmed a lot of people with his British accent, and that people should not feel ashamed for believing his act.
Seth Dornier, who was Rogers’ attorney before his death and during the grand jury, did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.
Gray also said she went to England and met with multiple men who alleged that Rogers abused them when they were students at his school. She said many of them saw his daughter as a victim.
Staff writers Terry Jones and Richard Burgess contributed to this report.