A state agency vetted and approved Scott Rogers to become a certified licensed foster parent in Louisiana and praised the TV personality two years ago for his efforts to promote foster care and adoption, records show.
Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Suzy Sonnier said the agency wasn’t aware Rogers was an accused child molester in his native England because he changed his name from Richard Scott Rogers and nothing in his immigration paperwork indicated a problem.
Sonnier said the state agency is “completely dependent on all the national and federal databases for our background check” and that nothing was flagged about Rogers.
“Evidently there are some gaps in the immigration system to allow someone with that kind of background to come to the United States and not have that background follow them,” Sonnier said.
Questions have swirled around how Rogers, who authorities say was shot to death by his son-in-law and lover, was able to adopt one boy in Louisiana, now 10, and take in another, age 2, whom he was in the process of trying to adopt.
Both children were removed from Rogers’ home last month after he became the target of a federal investigation focusing on whether he lied on naturalization and adoption records.
Sonnier said Thursday that state confidentiality laws prevent her from answering any specific questions surrounding the adoption of the boy who was living with Rogers — including whether DCFS had facilitated his adoption — or if the agency was involved in placing the other boy in his care.
However, the agency’s website indicates that Rogers was involved with the state agency and that the agency had done a background check for him to become a foster parent.
In a 2012 news release, DCFS officials stated the department was honoring Rogers with a “Media Advocate Award” for using his self-produced local talk show as a platform to push the need for more foster and adoptive homes in the state.
The release states, “Rogers’ passion for fostering and adoption led him to complete the required training to become a certified licensed foster parent himself.”
According to the DCFS website, aspiring foster parents must be at least 21; can be married, single, divorced or widowed; and must prove financial stability, have an adequate home to accept children, attend 21 hours of pre-service training, and pass state and federal background checks.
The agency also performs a background check on all members living in a household and requires them to provide fingerprints, Sonnier said. In addition, she said, applicants must submit five references before certification.
Sonnier also noted that DCFS conducts home checks every six months to track a child’s progress after placement with a foster family.
“This is an extensive process that all adults go through,” she said.
Rogers, who went by the name Richard Scott Rogers in England, was accused of molesting a 13-year-old pupil in his dance school in 1993 but was acquitted of the charge.
However, other complaints about him surfaced in 1995.
Some parents described an unhealthy, cultlike environment at the dance school and said Rogers would invite pupils at his dance school to “slumber parties” where he’d cuddle with them, according to accounts in the British press.
That same year, he divorced his wife, Maddie, with whom he had a daughter, Kimberly. After press accounts of the new allegations against him, he emigrated to the U.S., eventually winding up in Baton Rouge.
It was in Louisiana’s capital city that everything came to a head.
Rogers, 52, was fatally shot in his St. Gabriel home last week by Mathew Hodgkinson, a man Iberville Parish authorities have said was the “Around Town” host’s lover.
Hodgkinson, 36, turned the gun on himself as well and remained on life support in a local hospital Thursday suffering from a brain injury, Sheriff Brett Stassi said.
Since Rogers’ death, a man in federal protective custody has told The Advocate that both he and Hodgkinson, who also went by the name Hodgkins, were sexually abused by Rogers as teenagers in England. They moved to America and remained entangled with Rogers, whom the victim described as a master manipulator, for more than 20 years.
Across the Atlantic, the East Anglian Daily Times reported Thursday that Suffolk police have received several allegations of sexual abuse against Rogers since his death.
“Detectives will be making contact with these individuals in the next few days to ascertain whether they wish to disclose further information,” Nishan Wijeratne, a spokesman for the Suffolk Constabulary, told the newspaper.
Back in the states, the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate Rogers’ life here.
As of Thursday, Stassi said he has not received any complaints of child molestation against Rogers.
Federal officials, meanwhile, said this week that they have ended their investigation into whether Rogers lied on naturalization and adoption records in the wake of his death.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.