Controversial former Bury St Edmunds dance teacher shot dead in US

Bury Free Press, UK/August 29, 2014

By Paul Derrick

A former Bury St Edmunds performing arts teacher who was accused of sexually abusing one of his pupils and created a controversial school likened to a ‘religious cult’ has been shot dead at his USA home.

Scott Rogers, 52, formerly known as Richard Scott-Rogers, is said by police to have been killed by his son-in-law and one of his former pupils Mathew Hodgkinson at his home in Louisiana on Wednesday.

It is understood that Mr Hodgkinson then turned the gun on himself but was rushed to hospital where as of last night he remains in a coma on life support, according to Brett Stassi, Sheriff of Iberville Parish.

Mr Rogers, who had become a TV star and hosted his own show in Baton Rouge, founded and was a principal of the former Academy of Dancing and Performing Arts, in Fornham Road, Bury, which in 1995 was likened to a religious cult by Suffolk County Council bosses who warned parents of the ‘perceived risk’ of sending children to the school.

The authority voiced concerns about ‘a senior member’ of the academy - later identified as Mr Rogers - following a High Court case in 1993.

They highlighted an ‘unhealthy atmosphere at the academy and an environment in which some pupils moved their allegiance from their parents to that senior member and the academy’.

The council felt the ‘situation was reminiscent of those cases in which parents sought to extricate a child from the influence of a religious or supposedly religious cult’.

There was ‘also considerable anxiety felt as to levels of intimacy that existed’ between Mr Rogers and pupils.

In a separate case in 1993, he was acquitted by a jury at the Inner London Crown Court of committing an unnatural act on a 13-year-old boy. The jury failed to reach a verdict on three further charges of indecent assault and two of indecency. The judge then entered verdicts of not guilty on these charges after the prosecution offered no evidence.

Following Suffolk County Council’s warning, the Bury Free Press published the results of its own two year investigation into the school revealing how parents took their children away when they felt the academy was taking over their lives.

Parents told how Mr Rogers wanted to ‘control’ their children and former students recalled ‘sleep-overs’ by young children at his house when the then principal cuddled them in their sleeping bags.

They said he also got them to stroke his hair and massage his back and told them the academy, which was based in former British Rail buildings, was its own religion.

At the time the academy denied the allegations in the council statement with then principal Rachel Richards saying: “I don’t think there is any substance in the statement because it was not written by people who have ever been to the academy”.

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