MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin man struck up an online relationship with a 14-year-old Tennessee girl and offered to help her run away when she told him her adoptive father was sexually molesting her, but only if she sent him video proof of the sexual assault, federal prosecutors allege.
Prosecutors said in a complaint filed this week against 31-year-old Bryan Rogers that he drove to the girl’s home in Tennessee to pick her up on Jan. 14 once she provided him with the video. Rogers then destroyed the girl’s phone and avoided tollways and gas stations on the way back to his home in Madison, Wisconsin — all to avoid detection, prosecutors said.
Rogers is being held at the county jail in Madison. Prosecutors are seeking a grand jury indictment on charges that include sexual exploitation of a child to produce a visual depiction. His attorney, Marcus Berghahn, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday from The Associated Press. Berghahn declined comment to reporters following Rogers’ initial court appearance Monday.
Meanwhile, in Tennessee, authorities arrested the girl’s adoptive father in Monroe County on rape charges, according to online jail records. He is being held on $2 million bail. The AP is not identifying the adoptive father to protect the girl’s identity.
Rogers due in court again Thursday to determine whether he’ll remain jail while his case proceeds.
According to an FBI agent’s affidavit, Rogers began chatting with the teen on an online gaming platform called Roblox on Dec. 24. Soon after, the girl told Rogers her adoptive father was raping her but that her mother didn’t believe her. She told Rogers she was suicidal.
Rogers told her he would help, but that they needed “clear video evidence” so he wouldn’t get in trouble for taking her from her home, the FBI agent said in his report.
“And I know you don’t want to do it but I don’t exactly want to see your dad rape you either,” Rogers said, according to the conversations found on his phone.
The girl responded: “Bryan do u understand how hard that would be though.”
Rogers then told her he could “get in a hell of a lot of trouble” for helping, unless she could “prove what he did,” according to the FBI agent.
Investigators found a 7-minute video of the girl’s rape on Rogers’ computer, the FBI agent said. It was recorded Jan. 10 — four days before authorities said Rogers traveled to Tennessee.
When investigators went to Rogers’ home on Jan. 31, he initially denied ever meeting the girl in person and said he never went to Tennessee. But investigators returned to the home a few hours later and found the girl hiding in a closet in the basement.