Youth pastor wanted on child sex abuse charges still at large

Youth pastor wanted on child sex abuse charges still at large

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A youth minister wanted on child sex abuse charges is on the run. Now, authorities in another Louisiana parish are alerting parents.

New Orleans police say Ryan Scott Rodgers is wanted for the sexual battery of two teen boys. "I personally believe that there are more victims with the way the perpetrator handled the victims and he groomed them for future molestations," said NOPD Detective Stephanie Taillon.

The NOPD says Rodgers was a youth minister at several local churches in Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes. They wouldn't tell us which churches, but they say each congregation was notified. FOX 8 has learned that Rodgers was employed as an interim youth minister at Belle Chasse Baptist Church on Highway 23. According to the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office, Rodgers only worked there for a week and was fired last month once the allegations surfaced.

The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff  is now alerting parish residents that Rodgers is wanted on child sex abuse charges. The sheriff's office issued this statement Thursday:

Sheriff Lonnie Greco is alerting parish residents that a former Belle Chasse Baptist Church Youth Minister, Ryan Scott Rodgers, is wanted on accusations of child sex abuse charges in New Orleans.

We spoke with an advocate for abuse victims, who says she's very concerned that Rodgers is still at large. "Because of the possibility that he is going to continue this behavior until he is captured is a concern, and I would definitely alert the community and inform them that he is out there and to beware," said Karen Doughty.

New Orleans investigators say Rodgers is accused of fondling the two teen victims while they were sleeping and making them pose inappropriately for him. Those victims told detectives the abuse lasted for more than year, and police believe Rodgers sexually assaulted other victims during that time. According to the NOPD, most of the abuse happened at Rodger's New Orleans apartment on Baronne Street.

Once Rodgers is caught, police say he will be charged - at least initially - with sexual battery and seven counts of indecent behavior with juveniles. "I think he is in New Orleans, and I will catch up to him," said Taillon.

Pastor Jason Allen with First Baptist Belle Chasse issued the following statement:

Ryan Rodgers was employed at First Baptist Belle Chasse as an interim youth pastor for one week.  Upon learning of the allegations of molestation, our church immediately removed Mr. Rodgers from his position and contacted local authorities.  We met with the parents of our students to inform them of the allegations and encouraged them to talk with their kids. Our hearts break for those involved and we are praying for them each day as they take steps to heal.  We admire their immense courage in stepping forward so that no others might be harmed.

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