A federal grand jury seated in Fresno returned an indictment Thursday against a University of the Pacific associate professor, charging him with receiving and sending images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
The indicted man is Rodger Githens, 45, of West Sacramento. He has a Ph.D. and a master’s in Human Resource Development. He also took graduate classes in religious studies at the Chicago Theological Seminary.
The 7-Year-Old He Desired Was Actually an FBI Agent
According to court documents, in late March, Githens, using the profile “Tall laid back,” initiated contact with an account on the Grindr app controlled by an undercover FBI agent.
Githens allegedly encouraged the undercover FBI agent to establish an account with the Telegram app, which is considered more secure. Githens several times discussed traveling to Fresno to meet the agent and a supposed 7-year-old niece for sexual purposes, prosecutors said.
Instead, law enforcement served a search warrant at Githens’s residence on April 19 and seized multiple electronic devices. Agents discovered numerous Telegram chats on Githens’s phone, including several in which he was exchanging and commenting on videos of young children being sexually abused.
According to the Daily Beast, which cited the criminal complaints, Githens promised to bring the agent posting as the child “her favorite chocolate bar and an Ariel doll,” referring to the “The Little Mermaid” character.
UOP is headquartered in Stockton but also has a campus in Sacramento. A university spokesman told The Daily Beast that Githens has been placed on administrative leave.
‘Totally not a Fantasy for Me’
“It’s totally not fantasy for me,” Githens told the undercover agent in a series of graphic messages. The agent, the complaint says, was posing online as a “‘taboo-friendly’ uncle” in Fresno that had “a 7-year-old niece with whom he was sexually active.”
The West Sacramento Police Department assisted the FBI in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa, an expert in child porn and child sexual abuse cases, is the prosecutor.
If convicted, Githens faces five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.