THE DENVER POST - Voice of the
Rocky Mountain Empire
May 17, 1990
Sisters win sex lawsuit vs. dad $2.3 million given
for years of abuse
By Howard Prankratz
Denver Post Legal Affairs Writer
Two daughters of former state and federal law enforcement
official Edward Rodgers were awarded $2.319,400 yesterday,
after a Denver judge and jury found that the women suffered
years of abuse at the hands of their father.
The award to Sharon Simone, 45, and Susan Hammond, 44, followed
testimony of Rodgers’ four daughters in person or through
depositions, describing repeated physical abuse and sexual
assaults by their father from 1944 through 1965.
Rodgers, 72, who became a child abuse expert after retiring
from the FBI and joining the colorado Springs DA’s office,
failed to appear for the trial. But in a deposition taken
in March, Rodgers denied ever hitting or sexually abusing
He admitted that he thought of himself as a "domineering
s.o.b. who demanded strict responses from my children, strict
obedience." But it never approached child abuse, Rodgers
said. "Did I make mistakes? Damn right I did, just like
any other father or mother..."
Thomas Gresham, Rodger’s former attorney, withdrew from
the case recently after being unable to locate his client.
Rodgers recently contacted one of his sons from a Texas town
along the Mexican border. Gresham said his last contact with
Rodgers was on April 24.
The sisters reacted quietly to the verdict, and with relief
that their stories of abuse had finally been told.
"I feel really good that I’ve gone public with
this,"Hammond said. "I am a victim, the shame isn’t
mine, the horror happened to me. I’m not bad.
"My father did shameful and horrible things to me and
my brothers and sisters. I don’t believe he is a shameful
and horrible man, but he has to be held accountable,"
The lawsuit deeply divided the Rodgers family, with Rodgers’
three sons questioning their sister’s motives.
Immediately after the verdict, son Steve Rodgers, 37, reacted
angrily, yelling at his sisters in the courtroom.
Later, Rodgers said he loves his father and stands by him.
He said his sisters had told him their father had to be exposed
the way Nazi war criminals have been exposed.
"In a way I’m angry with my father for not being
here. But I’m sympathetic because he would have walked
into a gross crucifixion," Rodgers said.
Steve Rodgers never denied that he and his siblings were physically
abused, but disputed that his father molested his sisters.
Before the jury’s award, Denver District Judge William
Meyer found that Rodger’s conduct toward Simone and
Hammond was negligent and "outrageous."
Despite the length of time since the abuse, the jury determined
the sisters could legally bring the suit. The statute of limitations
for a civil suit is two years, but jurors determined that
the sisters became aware of he nature and extent of their
injury only within the last two years, during therapy.
The jury then determined the damages, finding $1,240,000 for
Simone and 1,079,000 for Hammond.
The sisters had alleged in their suit filed last July that
Rodgers subjected his seven children to a "pattern of
emotional, physical, sexual and incestual abuse."
As a result of the abuse, the women claimed their emotional
lives had been left in a shambles, requiring extensive therapy
for both and repeated hospitalizations of Hammond, who was
acutely suicidal. Simone developed obsessive behavior and
became so unable to function she resigned a position with
a Boston-based college.
Despite the judgment yesterday, Rodgers cannot be criminally
charged. the statue of limitations in Colorado for sexual
assault on children is 10 years.
Rodgers, who worked for the FBI for 27 years, much of it in
Denver, became chief investigator for the district attorney’s
office in Colorado Sp;rings. during his employment at the
DA’s office from 1967 until 1983, he became a well-known
figure in Colorado Springs, and lectured and wrote about child
abuse both locally and nationwide.
He wrote a manual called " A Compendium -- Child Abuse
by the National College of District Attorney’s,"
and helped put together manuals on child abuse for the New
York state police and a national child abuse center.