2006-09-15 / Front Page

Church Organist Axed By Criminal Charges

Allegedly Groped Girls, Had Sex With 16-Yr. Old
By Brian Magoolaghan

Omar Rodriguez in his Mamaroneck, N.Y., police booking photo.
Omar Rodriguez in his Mamaroneck, N.Y., police booking photo.

The organist at a local church was terminated this week after a Wave investigation revealed that he faces statutory rape and several child endangerment charges in Westchester County.

The Brooklyn Diocese said Thursday that Omar Rodriguez, 28, would be fired immediately from his job at St. Rose of Lima church in Rockaway Beach. The decision came one day after The Wave contacted the diocese with evidence of Rodriguez' alleged criminal acts against children.

"In light of the information, Father Peter Gillen, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima, said that Mr. Rodriguez would no longer serve as an organist at the parish," Frank DeRosa, a spokesperson for the diocese said. DeRosa added that Rodriguez, who played at the church's Sunday Mass on September 10, was a "fill-in" who was hired after the "sudden departure" of another parish organist.

Rodriguez is charged with nine counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of statutory rape, according to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore's office.

Rodriguez was arrested on April 6 by Mamaroneck police after several students at the Hommocks Middle School, where he worked as a music teacher, said he had touched them inappropriately, according to an April 14 Metro Briefing in The New York Times. He allegedly touched as many as six female students - and may have taken inappropriate pictures - while on a school trip in March to Washington, D.C., according to the transcript of a Channel 7 Eyewitness News report.

Days after his arrest, a 16-year-old girl came forward and told authorities she had sex with Rodriguez at his apartment twice, the Times brief said. The girl said she met Rodriguez at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Connecticut, where he also worked as the music minister and music director.

The Wave's investigation into Rodriguez began after the paper received several anonymous tips regarding his alleged criminal activity. A reporter observed Rodriguez at church, verified his criminal charges and then presented the findings to the diocese this week.

Rodriguez is due back in White Plains Supreme Court on September 21, according to the Westchester County District Attorney's office. His attorney, Andrew Rubin, did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.

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