A man was sentenced Thursday in Los Angeles to 40 months in federal prison for his dozen-year campaign of harassment — via letters and phone calls — against a television actress and her daughter in which he threatened to torture, rape and kill them.
James David Rogers, 58, a former nursing assistant of Heath, Ohio, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt, who called the conduct “inexcusable.”
Rogers pleaded guilty in April to two counts of mailing threatening communications, one count of threats by interstate communications and two counts of stalking.
According to court documents, from March 2007 until his arrest in November 2019, Rogers stalked, threatened, and harassed Eva LaRue, a Los Angeles actress whose credits include “CSI: Miami” and “All My Children,” and her daughter — who was 5 years old when the threats against her began.
For example, in February 2008, Rogers sent LaRue a letter in which he vowed to “stalk you until the day you die.” In other letters, Rogers repeatedly threatened to rape LaRue and her daughter.
From March 2007 to June 2015, Rogers mailed about 37 handwritten and typed letters in which he threatened to rape, kill, and otherwise injure the actress and her daughter. In June 2015, Rogers sent a letter to LaRue’s child which stated, in part, “I am the man who has been stalking for the last 7 years. Now I have my eye on you too.”
Rogers signed each letter using the name “Freddie Krueger,” the fictional serial killer from the horror film series “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
LaRue told City News Service outside court that two then-FBI agents who had helped solve the Golden State Killer case in 2018 using forensic genetic genealogy ran Rogers down using DNA material found on the letters and tracing him through relatives.
“Here I was on a TV show playing a DNA expert, and the bottom line is it was genealogy technology that caught my stalker 12 years after he began targeting me,” she said, adding that Rogers was identified just two weeks after the agents began investigating the case.
Rogers’ would write threatening letters for weeks at a time and then suddenly stop for several months before starting again, LaRue said.
In October and November 2019, Rogers called the school where LaRue’s daughter attended, spoke with a school employee, claimed to be her father and asked if she was present. In November 2019, he again called the girl’s school and left a voicemail in which he identified himself as “Freddie Krueger” and threatened to “rape her, molest her and kill her.”
Rogers’ federal public defense attorney, Waseem Salahi, told the court that his client suffers from “psychiatric instability. People do irrational things when they’re mentally ill.”
Salahi, who proposed a non-custodial sentence of home confinement and court-mandated mental health treatment, said Rogers deals with mental disorders including “repressed gender dysphoria” and faces “a long road of recovery ahead of him.”
LaRue gave a tearful victim impact statement, telling the L.A. federal judge that she has undergone therapy since the harassment began in order to deal with feelings of fear and paranoia.
She said that although she and her daughter apparently had no direct contact with the Ohio resident, “We didn’t know if he would show up on our doorstep. We will think about him for a lifetime. The fear is with me forever.”
Appearing via Zoom, Rogers apologized to LaRue “for what I said to you for the past 12 years, and putting your family through this hellish nightmare. I hope someday I can earn your forgiveness for my misdeeds. I wish someone had intervened much sooner and I was caught much sooner.”
The judge ordered Rogers to self surrender Oct. 12 to begin his sentence at a federal prison in Ohio. He was also ordered to serve three years under supervised release after he gets out of prison.