Monday, October 26, 2009

AZ: Ex-coach jailed on sex charges

By MATT BARNARD World Staff Writer
Published: 10/23/2009 2:26 AM
Last Modified: 10/23/2009 4:21 AM

A former East Central High School girls softball coach surrendered to authorities Thursday after allegations surfaced that he fondled a teenage player and made sexual comments to girls from the team.

Tommy Rogers, 55, is charged with lewd molestation and has been dismissed from East Central, where a 14-year-old girl accused him of touching her buttocks and asking about her sexual habits, according to his arrest report.

Rogers voluntarily went to the Tulsa Jail about 1:45 p.m. Thursday. He is held in lieu of $100,000 bail. His lawyer, Kevin Adams, said the girl made up the claims and that Rogers has no criminal history.

"It's a tragedy, what this accusation is, because he's innocent. He didn't do it, and this basically is going to ruin his reputation," Adams said.

Tulsa Public Schools spokeswoman Tami Marler said Rogers was a "lay coach" and didn't teach classes. His only involvement with the district was as a coach. He was paid about $2,000 for each three-month season he worked.

The accusations first came to school district police, and officers there notified the Tulsa Police Department. There was no evidence that the alleged molestation happened on campus, Marler said.

During interviews, the player told detectives that Rogers gave her a ride home after a Sept. 10 practice session. During the trip, he asked her if she had sex with male friends and if she had performed specific sex acts, the report states.

The girl told police that four days later, Rogers tried to access her cell phone and grabbed her buttocks when she tried to retrieve it.

It is the Tulsa World's policy not to identify victims of sex crimes.

Rogers started coaching at East Central in August 2008. He wasn't involved with the school during the off-season and won't be rehired, Marler said.

He also coached softball for an independent league and had been involved in the sport for about 27 years, Adams said.

Rogers works as a contractor and often paid for team sports equipment from his own pocket, Adams said.

The attorney has filed for a bond reduction on Rogers' behalf, citing his reputation, extensive family ties and length of residency in Oklahoma.

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