The case of a Madisonville teenager who went missing in January continues to take more twists and turns.
The 14-year-old girl was first reported missing Jan. 14. A tearful press conference was held a couple of weeks later with her parents asking for help finding her, and less than a week after that, her adoptive father, Randall Pruitt, was arrested and charged with rape. Almost simultaneously, a man was arrested in Wisconsin where the girl was found.
Bryan Rogers of Madison, Wis., was officially charged on Feb. 4 by federal authorities with convincing the girl to record one of her father’s alleged rapes, then having her email the video file to him.
Now, Rogers, 31, and his lawyer have filed a memorandum in support of releasing him before a trial is held and it paints a much different picture than the affidavit that the FBI released upon his arrest.
In the memorandum filed in federal court in Madison, attorney Marcus J. Berghahn argues that Rogers does not present a flight risk at all and that he is not a danger to the public because he was “honestly” trying to help the girl and the video was sent in an effort to boost the girl’s claims against her father.
Berghahn states that the girl initially attempted to make an audio recording of what Pruitt was allegedly doing to her but she was unable to get him to admit to the assaults, though he can be heard referring to their “encounters.”
Berghahn does state that Pruitt can be heard saying he will no longer force himself on her if she leaves with someone else. The memorandum says Rogers and the girl continued to discuss what was happening and she told him that Pruitt had allegedly forbidden her to take birth control because he wanted to impregnate her.
Berghahn put the same email/messenger conversations in the memorandum that the FBI used in its affidavit against Rogers, but he included parts the government left out, the attorney contends.
The conversations not included in the FBI affidavit contend that Rogers encouraged the girl to go to the hospital and get a rape test done.
The girl also told Rogers that her father was a convicted felon and still carried firearms and that he one time, he became upset with her and killed her dog and skinned it then left the body on the family’s property. She said he also pointed a shotgun at someone who came to the house.
The girl, who had also threatened to kill herself due to the alleged abuse, then went ahead and made the video recording of an alleged sexual assault and Rogers came down to Tennessee to get her. He hid her in his mother’s home in Madison, both federal prosecutors and Rogers’ attorney state.
Berghahn said Rogers made mistakes in having the video emailed to him and taking the girl to Wisconsin, but contends Rogers had a very limited understanding of the law and didn’t know he was doing anything wrong.
The memorandum said Rogers and the girl mailed a package to the FBI that contained a description of what was happening a copy of the video. Berghahn believes this is when the FBI obtained the evidence needed to arrest Pruitt.
Berghahn said in the memorandum that Rogers is a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, liked to “storm chase” and regularly had his photos shown on local television stations and The Weather Channel.
Berghahn said Rogers’ mother had no idea the girl was in the house and was surprised when she came out of the basement.
There has been no date set for a judge to rule on whether or not Rogers will be released and monitored with a tracking device while awaiting trail for the alleged federal offense. Rogers’ book-in sheet also shows a local Madison charge of kidnapping against him in connection with the missing girl.