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  Another Priest Accused of Molestation

By Carol Benfell
Press Democrat
November 5, 1995

Another priest in the Santa Rosa diocese has been accused of sodomizing a young boy and has been removed from his post, this time as college chaplain at Humboldt State University.

Bishop Patrick Ziemann on Saturday ordered the Rev. John Rogers to return from study in Belgium and report to Santa Rosa for psychiatric evaluation.

The action came after conversations with Patrick McBride, 36, who said he was 15 when Rogers molested him in the rectory of St. Bernard's church in Eureka in 1976, Ziemann said.

Ziemann said he was speaking to the press only because McBride authorized him to do so, which McBride confirmed.

Rogers was chaplain of the Cardinal Newman Center at Humboldt State University for 12 years until August 1995, when he was removed by Ziemann because of McBride's complaint, Ziemann said.

Ziemann said he sent Rogers to study for a theology degree in Belgium while he investigated McBride's report. Ziemann said Saturday at McBride's request he is removing Rogers from the Belgium university and bringing him to Santa Rosa for psychiatric evaluation.

Rogers will not be allowed to return to the ministry for the foreseeable future and perhaps ever, Ziemann said.

"Because Patrick came forward, I wanted to move on this immediately," Ziemann said.

At the time of the alleged molestation, McBride said he was attending Camp St. Michael when Rogers came for a visit. The Rev. Gary Timmons asked McBride, a junior counselor, to go back to Eureka with Rogers "to work on a special project," McBride said.

Back at the St. Bernard's, McBride and Rogers sat around and drank beer. Rogers then said "real men drink bourbon" and served hard liquor to the teen-ager.

McBride started to pass out and Rogers suggested he go to sleep in his room. McBride said he passed out on the bed from the alcohol and when he awoke, he found he was on his stomach, his face pressed into a pillow and was being sodomized by Rogers.

"I struggled, but he overpowered me," McBride said. The next morning, he wondered if he had been dreaming, but saw his underclothes were covered with blood.

"I asked him, 'why did you do this?' he told me, 'Because God has not taken this from me yet,"' McBride said.

McBride said Rogers then told him, "I know how much the church means to your parents. If you tell anybody this will destroy your mom."

McBride kept his secret for 13 years, until he blurted it out to his mother in 1988. His mother went immediately to diocese officials and told them what had happened, McBride said. "I didn't pursue it," McBride said.

A couple months ago, he found out Rogers was still at the Newman Center, still working with young people. "I was afraid and angry because I didn't want any other child to be at risk," McBride said.

He went to Ziemann and explained the situation. Ziemann immediately got on the phone with Rogers and, in McBride's presence, told Rogers he was removed from office, McBride said.

"That was all I wanted," McBride said. "I didn't want him to be able to do the same thing to someone else. Bishop Pat has been extremely supportive of me."

 
 

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