2006-11-03 / Front Page

Former Church Organist Pleads Guilty To Sex Charges

By Brian Magoolaghan

Omar Rodriguez Jr.
Omar Rodriguez Jr. A former organist at St. Rose of Lima Church, who was fired from his job after a Wave investigation exposed sex crime charges, pleaded guilty last week to third-degree rape and endangering the welfare of a child.

Omar Rodriguez Jr., 27, admitted he inappropriately touched several adolescent students at the Hommocks Middle School in the Town of Mamaroneck where he was a music teacher, according to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore. The incidents took place over an 18-month period from September, 2003 to March, 2006, during which time Rodriguez also had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl in the Village of Mamaroneck, where he lives.

Rodriguez was arrested on April 6 after six female students at Hommocks said he touched them inappropriately, according to previously published reports. The 16-year-old girl came forward after his arrest and told authorities that Rodriguez had sex with her twice at his apartment.

Rodriguez worked as an organist at St. Rose of Lima in Rockaway Beach while he was awaiting trial. The Wave began an investigation in September after receiving anonymous tips regarding his then-alleged criminal history. Father Peter Gillen, the pastor of St. Rose, promptly fired the organist, who he termed a "fill-in," after verifying information presented by this newspaper, according to Frank DeRosa, a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

DeRosa told The Wave this week that all parishes would be sent a memo notifying them that Rodriguez was "ineligible to be employed in any capacity in any of the parishes or agencies of the Diocese of Brooklyn" due to his conviction.

Rodriguez is scheduled for sentencing on January 11, 2007, but DiFiore said he will have to surrender his New York State teaching license and that 10-year orders of protection will be issued on behalf of all of the victims if Rodriguez is put on probation. He will also be a registered sex offender for 10 years after the completion of his sentence.

"When anyone in a position of trust and authority, particularly a teacher, exploits that position, they will be held strictly accountable," said Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore. "This defendant exhibited extremely poor judgment by purposely crossing the line between teacher and student and engaged in inappropriate relationships with some of those students."

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