By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
NEW ORLEANS – Investigators are seeking any additional information on a former youth minister arrested on allegations of sexually abusing two teenage boys.
Ryan Rodgers, who was a youth minister at several churches in Jefferson, Orleans and Plaquemines parishes, turned himself into authorities the morning of June 26.
Rodgers is accused of touching two teenage boys in appropriately while they were sleeping, according to a press release from the New Orleans Police Department. The victims informed detectives that Rodgers woke the boys and fondled them. They told Detective Stephanie Taillon this went on for more than a year.
Taillon learned Rodgers bought the victims underwear and made them pose in front of him. Most of the encounters occurred inside Rodgers’ Baronne Street apartment in New Orleans, the press release said.
Detectives believe Rodgers assaulted other victims as well and are asking anyone who is a victim to contact Taillon at 504.658.5733.
When the news first broke, some media outlets implied Rodgers had an ongoing affiliation with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, identifying him as a youth minister with the seminary. However, according to Kelley, these statements were in error.
While Rodgers is a 2011 graduate of the seminary, he has no other affiliation with the school and has never worked for the school in any capacity.
In a statement released to the Baptist Message, Kelley denounced the actions for which Rodgers is accused and commended the parents who alerted the police about his indecent behavior.
“We profoundly regret the apparent reprehensible conduct of this former NOBTS student,” Kelley said. “We have a zero tolerance for such behavior on the part of students, faculty or staff and applaud the parents for stepping forward as soon as they were aware of the problem. We pray for all those affected by this tragic situation.”
Kelley added that the seminary relies heavily on church endorsements of students who apply to attend classes there. In recent years, the seminary added criminal background checks to the admission screening as an extra measure of protection for the churches NOBTS graduates will serve.
“We take very seriously the ministerial training role entrusted to us by Southern Baptist churches,” Kelley said. “Our concern for the churches our graduates will serve begins during the admission process. A student who applies for any degree at the seminary is required to have a church endorsement and provide multiple references. NOBTS also includes a criminal background check as part of our screening process for admission.
“The seminary community is urged to pray for all involved for healing.”