Former Fort Wayne Police Officer Mark Rogers sat in the front row in Allen Superior Court, gathering tissues in his hands and pressing them to his eyes.
He hadn’t gotten to his guilty plea hearing yet, but emotions were getting the best of the 19-year veteran of the city’s police department. He talked with his attorneys Tony Churchward and Dave Zent before pleading guilty to charges of rape, sexual misconduct and official misconduct.
The last case on the docket for Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull, Rogers’ plea came nearly a year after he was arrested and accused of having sex with a woman he arrested after a drunken-driving stop.
When Gull asked how he pleaded, he quietly but surely said “guilty” as she read “sexual misconduct, a Class C felony” and “official misconduct, a Class D felony.”
But when she got to “rape, a Class B felony,” Rogers began shaking his head and sat silently for a moment.
“I didn’t know the level of intoxication,” Rogers said. “But I found out later it violated the statute.
“Guilty,” he said quietly, still apparently hesitant.
The blood-alcohol content in question was 0.25 percent, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Under Indiana law, the crime of rape involves not only force or the use of force; it can include “mental disability” or “mental deficiency,” which can be caused by drugs or alcohol.
In December, Allen County prosecutors filed two rape charges against Rogers – one alleging the use of force and the other alleging the victim was unaware the conduct was occurring by mental disability.
Those charges joined the sexual misconduct and official misconduct charges, as well as a misdemeanor charge of false informing. As part of the plea agreement with prosecutors, the second rape charge and the false informing charge would be dismissed at sentencing.
If Gull accepts the plea agreement, Rogers will face no more than six years of an executed sentence in prison, work release, home detention or other type of sentencing.
While he hadn’t resigned his position on the police department until this month, the effective end of Rogers’ career in law enforcement came last Sept. 1, when he was working a drunken-driving enforcement patrol.
Rogers, a crime scene technician, stopped the woman. Because of her level of intoxication, she vomited, so Rogers took her to St. Joseph Hospital for treatment, according to court documents. After she was released, Rogers put her in handcuffs in the back of the squad car, then drove her to a park, where he sexually assaulted her, according to court documents.
The woman said Rogers stopped the car three or four times before stopping at a park, taking her out of the police car and removing her handcuffs. She said Rogers then had sex with her on a park bench, and she said she “fully cooperated with these acts as she feared for her physical safety because she knew (Rogers) was a Fort Wayne police officer,” according to the probable cause affidavit.
Rogers then drove the woman to her home, court documents said.
After the encounter, Rogers filed a report stating that he had responded to a call about a motorist passed out in a vehicle near Lima and Edgewood roads. He wrote that he began to transport her to the Allen County Jail, but she began to vomit, so he took her to the hospital for treatment.
Rogers’ report states he was told that she would be at the hospital for a while for observation, so he told hospital personnel he would file a warrant for her arrest for operating while intoxicated, according to the affidavit.
His report then states that he returned to the police operations center and “completed OWI paperwork and forwarded same for issuance of a warrant,” but it did not indicate that he took the woman to her home after she was released from the hospital.
Rogers faces sentencing in mid-September. Until then, he remains out on bond.