Local driver's ed teacher arrested on attempted child sex charges

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - A local driver's education teacher has been charged with attempting to entice and assault an underage student. In a letter, the suspect detailed his infatuation with the girl.

On March 12, officers arrested Charles A. Rodgers, 74. He's charged with Attempted Child Enticement, Attempted Sexual Assault by a School Member, and Attempted Exposing a Child to Harmful Narrations.

A criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News states that an officer was contacted by an associate principal at Fox Valley Lutheran High School. A student there had expressed concerns about her former driver's education teacher. She called him "Mr. Rodgers."

Police identified the teacher as Charles A. Rodgers, who worked for Tri-County Driving School. Tri-County contracts with Fox Valley Lutheran for driver's ed and classroom instruction.

The victim stated that when she was 15, Rodgers was her driving instructor. "During some of her lessons, Rodgers made crude and inappropriate comments towards her, including mentioning that he wanted to 'get in her pants'," reads the criminal complaint.

The girl said Rodgers put his hand on her thigh and on her genitals over her clothes.

The girl came forward because one of her friends was in Rodgers' class and she did not want other people to go through what she had.

The girl provided police with a letter written by Rodgers after she got her driver's license.

The letter reads:

"I love you so much that I am a wreck. I want you to be my girlfriend and me your boyfriend exclusively. I want to start right away. I think you are hung up on our age difference. I don't think it is a problem. Just open your heart and let me in. I will love you take care of you and give you anything you want. Even give you the smart mobile. This is a mature decision and will be forever. It is not a school boy crush. The guys including your boyfriend just want in your pants so they can talk about it. They will eventually just walk away. I will be there forever. If you don't want to let me in then I will leave you alone. I don't want to but I will. I can't take being near you but can't have you. If you change your mind just call. Hopefully you will really think about it before you decide. Remember how much I really love you. You probably don't even care or like me. If you don't that's OK. Just let me know. Then my tattoo will have a meaning.

Love, Chuck"

The victim stated that Rodgers would also text her.

An police officer posed as the victim and had a text conversation with Rodgers on March 12. During the conversation, Rodgers talked about his infatuation with the victim, according to the complaint.

Rodgers, believing he was speaking with the girl, offered to pick her up in his driver's education car and to go a park in Appleton to have sex.

"We could try to find a dry spot in the woods and make mad passionate love," reads one of the texts from Rodgers.

He later said that he would take her to the Tri-County Driving School building.

Police located Rodgers and took him into custody. He told police that he "kinda screwed up." He also admitted that he planned to have sex with the victim that night, according to the complaint.

Rodgers told police that during his career, he had taught at all the Appleton area schools.

David Gawinski, owner of the Tri-County Driving School released a statement to Action 2 News Wednesday night.

He said, "The individual who was named in the criminal complaint was employed with us for 17 years. This employee was immediately suspended in a criminal matter pending the results of the investigation and prosecution, if that occurs. This employee will remain suspended until we receive notification from the Appleton Police Department. We had no reason whatsoever to believe he would ever have been involved in anything unlawful. Nothing has ever shown up on the criminal background checks which are required every 2 years by the State of Wisconsin. We have pledged our support for the investigation."

Rodgers appeared in Outagamie County Court Wednesday. Cash bond was set at $20,000.

Anyone with additional information about Rodgers should call Appleton Police at 920-832-5500.