How local TV personality Scott Rogers kept his sordid past in England a secret from everyone in the United States — including federal and state officials — has been a lingering question since his slaying on Aug. 27.
On the day Rogers’ son-in-law Mathew Hodgkinson apparently shot him before turning the gun on himself, the “Around Town” host was targeted in grand jury proceedings surrounding a federal investigation into whether Rogers lied on naturalization and adoption records.
Although federal officials haven’t released any further details about their investigation — now closed in the wake of Rogers’ death — there has been suspicion Rogers must have lied about his arrest and the highly publicized 1993 trial regarding allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old student who attended one of several performing arts academies he ran in England.
Rogers, 52, was cleared of the charges; however, other complaints about him surfaced in 1995.
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 involved with Rogers, whom the victim described as a master manipulator, for more than 20 years.
So, how did a man accused of all that immigrate to the U.S. and then be allowed to adopt children?
That’s a question we may never get answers to.
After settling down in an impressive St. Gabriel home, Rogers adopted a 10-year-old and was in the process of trying to adopt a 2-year-old boy when he was killed.
Those children were taken away from him less than two weeks before his death as the feds began their probe.
Suzy Sonnier, secretary of the state’s Department of Children and Family Services, has said the agency wasn’t aware of Rogers’ background and made it clear the department relies on national and federal databases to provide accurate screening information.
“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.
But officials with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services say nothing “derogatory” popped up when Rogers went through the naturalization process in 2006.
“I can confirm we did conduct background investigations on Rogers,” said Sharon Scheidhauer, a USCIS spokeswoman. “We did our due diligence; but these background checks are only a snapshot in time.”
USCIS press secretary Christopher Bentley added that even if Rogers’ fingerprint analysis would have pulled up his alleged criminal background, it wouldn’t have meant he would have been denied citizenship.
Bentley and Scheidhuaer said they could not provide further details about the department’s background process, citing security issues.
It’s becoming clear someone at the state and federal government may have dropped the ball with this — especially since a simple Internet search shortly after Rogers’ death could pull up articles from a score of British newspapers recounting the accusations in England.
It just remains to be seen if anyone will ever own up to the mistake.