Familiar Evil
by Rannah Gray
The Lisburn Press

"As he revealed more about Scott Rogers, I began to realize that Scott was even more dangerous than what I knew."

Scott Rogers had an uncanny ability to get people to like and believe in him. In England, parents entrusted their children to him, not simply in the role of students at his performing arts academy but also as houseguests for sleepovers. In the United States, he cast his spell on members of his flock at the church he established with himself as pastor. Government officials and representatives from local and federal law enforcement agencies also succumbed to his influence. As the host of a local cable TV show, Rogers even managed to charm many of the residents of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that he had never met personally. Of course, no celebrity is popular with everyone, and there were some who recognized the manipulation that lurked beneath his public persona. The author was one of these individuals who saw this and also sensed there was something else not quite right about the man. But it wasn't until she received a disturbing email from an unknown correspondent in England that she began to see just how dangerous Rogers was.

According to the book, Rogers began sexually abusing some of his young male students during his early days at his academy in England. Eventually, he was found out and brought to trial, but a hung jury resulted in him avoiding punishment for his crimes. Despite the horrifying nature of his abuse which included rape and torture, some of his victims still clung to him and even ran away from their families in order to accompany him to America. Others, though, managed to escape his physical clutches but still battled the emotional ones for years to come. One such survivor was "Ethan," a man who found Gray's editorial during an Internet search for Rogers two years after it was written.

In her highly-crafted and revealing exposè of the unmasking of a sexual predator, Gray plunges the reader into an investigation that rivals any true crime tale on the market today. What gives the story added interest is the fact that the author is not just reporting on the case as an outside observer but was actually a key figure in it. If Rogers hadn't tried to cheat Gray's company out of fees for its services and deliberately attempted to hurt her reputation, the author would have never had cause to write an editorial in defense that mentioned his name. After "Ethan" contacted her, she showed his email to criminal defense attorney Nathan Fisher. Paralegal Mary Jane Marcantel was soon recruited, and together the foursome contributed to the eventual downfall of the charismatic criminal.

Gray's writing skills are superb, and her passion for her subject is obvious. Her technique of not telling her tale in strict chronological order ironically adds to the fast pace of the story rather than detracting from it as one might suppose. Her inclusion of emails from "Ethan" along with firsthand accounts from some of Rogers' other victims also give her book added depth and enhance its emotional impact. Poignant and powerful, Gray's book points out how easy it can be for monsters to hide among us.

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