Priest Reportedly Arrested in K.C. Prostitution Sting

St. Joseph News-Press [St. Joseph MO]
Downloaded June 18, 2003

Two Kansas City television stations report that one of about 100 people arrested in a multi-county prostitution sting last week was a St. Joseph priest.

KMBC and KSHB reported Tuesday night that the Rev. Vincent M. Rogers, pastor of St. James Catholic Church on King Hill Avenue, was arrested last week and was placed on administrative leave by the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese.

Father Rogers, who has not been charged with a crime, could not be reached for comment. The answering machine at his parish office said the priest is "out of town for a few days."

The message referred church business to Father Matt Rotert, a priest at St. Columban Parish in Chillicothe, Mo.

Diocese officials said Father Rogers notified Bishop Raymond J. Boland of the arrest, news accounts said. The priest told the bishop he made phone calls to arrange for a massage. Police arrested him after he showed up for the appointment.

A statement from the diocese said the bishop placed Father Rogers on administrative leave "in recognition of the seriousness of this matter, the high standards of priestly accountability and the grave community consequences that result from prostitution," said the news reports.

Bishop Boland and the diocese adopted an extensive "Code of Ethical Standards" for priests and other church leaders in January 1998. In the part titled "Sexual Conduct," the code said church leaders "must not exploit another person for sexual purposes" and should "witness in all relationships the chastity appropriate to their state in life."

Messages left with the Rev. Patrick Rush, vicar general of the diocese, and Rebecca Summers, diocese director of information and media relations, were not returned. Sharon Lynch, assistant administrator at St. James, also did not return calls.

Father Rogers, who studied in the Vatican from 1989 to 1993, is celebrating his 10th anniversary as a priest. The South Side parish plans a Mass of Thanksgiving and a dinner to celebrate on July 10.

News of Father Rogers' leave hit hard parishioners at St. James.

"I don't believe any of the accusations," said Ramona Farris, who attends the King Hill church. "He's very well liked and respected by our parish. He's very active in the community and is considered a good person."

About 20 law-enforcement agencies took part in a prostitution sting last week in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Authorities placed ads in a newspaper and on the Internet for escort services. The phone numbers listed actually rang to a police unit running the sting.

Once a meeting was arranged over the phone, an undercover officer posed as an escort, leading to the arrests.


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