An attorney for an Edgewater City Council member and her husband denied Saturday that they performed an exorcism on their daughter, who police said they found screaming and bruised at home last month.
Council member Debra Jean Rogers and her husband, Daniel, have not been charged in the case, but a state review is pending.
Their 18-year-old daughter Danielle Rogers, a Stetson University student who was at an undisclosed protected location Saturday, was covered with olive oil when police arrived at the family’s home June 27, according to a police report.
Danielle Rogers told police her father said the ritual was an effort to “get the demons out of her” and that her shirt and bra were ripped as she and her family struggled. Her family claimed Danielle Rogers tore off her own shirt and ripped her pants open in an effort to expose herself to her father, police wrote.
“Do you believe in God?” Daniel Rogers, 47, kept asking, twisting his daughter’s arm, she told police.
Daytona Beach attorney Sam Masters said he welcomes a “thorough and unbiased investigation.” Rogers and his wife, 46, were not arrested, but the State Attorney’s Office will review possible charges of false imprisonment and battery/domestic violence, according to the report.
“There was no, quote, exorcism,” Masters said. “It appears to be the case of a troubled teenager who lost control and the police were called, and suddenly the facts got turned.”
Police reports reveal parents concerned about their daughter’s virtue and disapproving of a young man with whom she spends time.
Danielle Rogers told police that her twin sister, Christina, and her mother, a council member since November 2005, held her down and her father poured oil over her head, eyes, body and legs. The police report indicates the family acted because Danielle Rogers swore at her sister. Danielle Rogers told police she is afraid of her father, who “believes he is a Christian and super powerful and can tell everyone what to do.”
“Daniel said he wanted to anoint Danielle in the effort to exorcise the demons out of her,” according to the report.
Edgewater council member Harriet Rhodes said Debra Rogers, an accountant, is known as religiously zealous and used to leave religious tracts for a former city manager. Rhodes said Rogers is entitled to her beliefs, but if the reports are substantiated, she went too far.
“I think it should be investigated, and if it’s true, maybe they all need some family counseling,” Rhodes said.
The former manager, Ken Hooper, said Debra Rogers also left notes, e-mails and voice mails with biblical phrases, and he considered that “strange.”
“I’ve never had that happen before,” said Hooper.
Debra, Daniel and Christina Rogers told police that Danielle Rogers has been confrontational and “out of control.” A police officer wrote that he arrived at the home in response to a call from Christina and found Daniel Rogers holding Danielle Rogers, who was screaming and trying to break free. Both were covered in oil, which also had dripped onto the wood floor, creating a slippery mess. A lamp and other items were broken, the officer said. Danielle Rogers told the officer that her father had tried to “anoint her with oil to get Satan out,” and dumped it on her head. Christina and her parents told police that Danielle knocked a large jug of oil out of her father’s hands, causing it to spill.
The police report states that Debra Rogers:
Referred to a victim advocate as the “devil’s advocate” and said the woman probably punched Danielle Rogers herself and encouraged her to make a report so Danielle could get victims’ money from the state.
Told the police chief that it was obvious one of the investigating officers wanted to have sex with Danielle Rogers.
Police wrote that Daniel Rogers told them he had confronted Danielle Rogers many times about the writings in her diary and made her “graphically ‘confess’ her sins,” describing exactly what she had done with young men she dated. Debra Rogers said it was common for the family to pray together in times of tension and to anoint the children with olive oil to cleanse their spirits, according to police.
Edgewater Vice Mayor Dennis Vincenzi said whatever happened is personal, and he hopes it will not affect Rogers’ work on the council. He described the couple as caring parents and said Debra Rogers does a “great job” for the city.
“A lot of people I’ve noticed turn to their religious faith when there are family problems and that’s probably what they’re doing,” Vincenzi said.
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