The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Trent Rogan, a youth pastor at Community Church at Hendersonville in Hendersonville (Gallatin), Tennessee, was recently convicted of raping a seventeen-year-old boy.
A once prominent community leader who was serving as a children’s pastor at a Hendersonville church when he was charged in 2022 with having sex with a 17-year-old male, was found guilty on Thursday of five counts of Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure and four other charges.
A jury convicted Trent Rogan, 31 of Gallatin of nine charges that included two counts of Especially Aggravated Exploitation of a Minor and two counts of Exploitation of a Minor by Electronic Means, after a three-day trial in Sumner County Criminal Court.
Assistant District Attorneys Nathan Nichols and David Vorhaus presented testimony from several witnesses, including the victim who is now 19.
Although the victim testified in open court and spoke openly with a reporter after the verdict, the Hendersonville Standard does not identify victims of sex crimes.
The victim testified that he met Rogan in the fall of 2021 after applying to and being accepted into the Leadership Sumner Youth Program, a leadership development program for high school juniors that is no longer in operation.
Shortly after the two met, Rogan, who was a chaperone and co-director of the program, initiated a sexual relationship with the victim, and often supplied him with drugs and alcohol, the victim testified. The sexual abuse occurred on five separate occasions – including twice in Rogan’s Gallatin home.
After the victim cut ties with Rogan and divulged the two’s encounters to a friend, the Gallatin Police Department and the Department of Children Services opened an investigation in April of 2022.
Rogan was arrested and charged with five counts of Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure and two counts of Exploitation of a Minor by Electronic Means on June 6, 2022. A grand jury returned a nine-count indictment in August of that year that included two counts of Especially Aggravated Exploitation of a Minor.
Rogan was working at the time as the Kids Pastor at Community Church of Hendersonville. He has since resigned. Before that, he was the NextGen Ministry-Children’s Director at Gallatin First United Methodist Church from Dec. 2017-Feb. 2020. Rogan also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations including Gallatin Cares and the Gallatin Chamber of Commerce where he was the board’s chairman-elect.
In his closing arguments to the jury, Nichols pointed out that the victim identified himself as a member of the LBGTQ community on his Leadership Sumner Youth application and that as one of the co-directors Rogan helped select the victim for the program.
The victim applied to the program to better himself while Rogan saw it as an opportunity to prey on him, Nichols added.
“He didn’t join [the program] to have sex with Trent Rogan but Trent Rogan saw that application and saw it as an opportunity to have sex with him,” he told jurors.
Rogan’s attorney Paul Walwyn acknowledged the two had sex and sent pictures to each other, but argued that Rogan was not an authority figure to the teen.
“This case is about whether or not he used his authority or power to control [the victim] – and the answer is no,” argued Walwyn. “There’s nothing except for a title. [The victim] never said he felt compelled or coerced or anything to be in a relationship with Mr. Rogan… There’s nothing about control in this case.”
Jurors disagreed, convicting Rogan on all nine counts.
Nichols said after the verdict that the case is “the very poster child for why these cases should be prosecuted vigorously and why General [Ray] Whitley and all the other prosecutors and myself are dedicated to prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This young man had his life altered in an extremely negative, terrible way because of Mr. Rogan’s actions and it set his life on a course that he never intended for it to go,” Nichols added.
Vorhaus said the case needed to be prosecuted not just for the victim but for the collateral damage Rogan did to the community.
“He did a lot of damage to the community,” agreed Nichols. “He did a lot of damage to his church, and to Leadership Sumner Youth, which doesn’t even exist because of him.”
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
Connect with me on social media:
Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.
You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.