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College professor wanted to rape 7-year-old girl, promised to bring her ‘favorite chocolate bar’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ doll: FBI

Rodger Rod Githens (University of the Pacific)

Rodger Rod Githens (University of the Pacific)

A 45-year-old college professor in California was arrested last week for allegedly trying to arrange the rape of a 7-year-old girl during multiple online conversations with a person he believed to be the purported child’s uncle but was actually an undercover FBI agent.

Rodger “Rod” Githens, a former Assistant Dean for Academic Programs and Innovation and current associate professor and Alexandra Greene Ottesen Endowed Chair at the University of the Pacific, was taken into custody on Friday and charged with one count of receipt and distribution of images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Githens on March 25 reached out to the undercover agent via the Grindr dating app by searching for the tag “parent.” The undercover’s “taboo-friendly” profile was also tagged with the words “dirty,” “discreet,” and “curious.”

The undercover told Githens that he had a 7-year-old niece with whom he’s been sexually active and the conversation quickly moves onto the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

In the exchanges that follow, the user authorities say is Githens and the undercover both claim to have had previous sexual experience with children under the age of 10, with Githens saying he’s into “babies.”

The undercover then tells Githens that he sometimes babysits for his “niece” when her mother is at work, which is when he would take advantage of the opportunity to sexually assault the child. Githens allegedly responded by saying that while he enjoys “chatting,” he would “love to have a dad or uncle invite me.”

When the undercover asks Githens if he was being serious or if he was really just “about fantasy,” Githens allegedly responds, “No I’m not about fantasy. lol.”

In a later conversation in which the two discuss setting a date so that Githens can allegedly rape the purported victim, he promises to bring the nonexistent 7-year-old “her favorite chocolate bar” as well as a doll of Ariel from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”

During another conversation, Githens allegedly said that he and his husband of 13 years were both into “‘young’ (as young as 8 years old)” children and explained to the undercover that he believed kids were “property” and lamented that “it used to be what your kids could do for you,” according to the complaint.

Githens and the undercover allegedly spoke for a few weeks before authorities say Githens agreed to meet the undercover and his purported niece at a hotel in Fresno on April 19. However, Githens on April 18 canceled, saying that “some shit hit the fan” with a work project.

While Githen’s home was under FBI surveillance, officers with the West Sacramento Police Department working with federal agents on April 19 informed him that packages he had reported stolen were available to be picked up at the station. Soon after he left the house, federal agents pulled Githens over and brought him back to his home for a post-Miranda interview.

Agents say they seized Githens’ cellphone and found the chats between him and the undercover agent and several others in which he discussed raping young children in graphic and explicit detail. The phone also contained grotesque child sexual abuse material, including a video of a child under the age of 8 being raped by an adult man, the complaint states.

If convicted on the aforementioned charge, Githens faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.