Ex-Mellencamp Pianist on 'Most Wanted' List

Rock musician Eric Franklin Rosser, once a piano player in John Mellencamp's band, was placed on the FBI's notorious "10 Most Wanted Fugitives" list today.

Rosser, 48, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Indianapolis last March on six felony counts of sexual exploitation of children but has since disappeared. He was last seen in Thailand, where he is facing similar charges.

"Eric Franklin Rosser played in my band in 1979 for a very brief period of time," Mellencamp said in a written statement. "I have not seen or spoken to him since."

His piano work appears on Mellencamp's 1980 album, Nothin' Matters and What If It Did. In the years after, he ran a music school for children in Bangkok, Thailand, though he often returned to the United States to perform, according to law enforcement officials.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno said it was the first time an individual accused of child pornography offenses has been placed on the the bureau's most wanted list.

"Federal law enforcement places great priority on the fight against child pornography," Reno told a news conference, adding that his inclusion on the list "will go a long way in our effort to apprehend a man allegedly responsible for perpetuating this crime."

The FBI's infamous list also includes Osama bin Laden, who allegedly masterminded the bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, and Eric Rudolph, charged in connection with a bombing during the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta.

If apprehended, Rosser could face 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the four counts of the indictment alleging conspiracy, transportation, and distribution of child pornography, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Indianapolis.

The two counts of production of child pornography carry a possible sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Royal Thai Police and the FBI searched Rosser's school and home in Thailand on Feb. 9 and took him into custody, charging him with possession and production of child pornography, as well as the molestation of a female child relative in Thailand. He was then released on bail.

Since April 18, "he failed to make any court-ordered appearances and has apparently fled Thailand," skipping out on $25,000 bail, Reno said.

The charges against Rosser involve alleged incidents with three females under the age of 18 and occurred between August 1994 and April 1998.

One production allegedly was a video that depicted sexually explicit conduct between Rosser and an 11-year-old female, which he allegedly distributed to a resident in Bloomington, Ind., according to the FBI.

Two of the victims, identified only as Kelly Doe and Sally Doe, were formerly residents of Bloomington. The third victim, identified as Ellen Doe, was from Thailand, according to the March 21 indictment.

The bureau is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to Rosser's arrest and the law enforcement agency said he should be considered dangerous, especially to children.

"There have been sightings [of Rosser] outside of Thailand" recently, including in western Europe within the last three to four months, said Andreas Stephens, chief of the Violent Crimes Division at the FBI.

Rosser was described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall, 145 pounds with dark brown hair, bald on top, with blue eyes. He wears prescription glasses and has used the alias Rice Sorser, according to the FBI.

He becomes the 460th person put on the FBI's Most Wanted list, replacing Arthur Lee Washington Jr., who was dropped after being on the list for 11 years. Since the fugitive list began in 1950, 431 have been captured or located, 137 of them with the aid of citizens.

Reuters contributed to this report.