The African-American pastor at one of Atlanta's largest churches was arrested last Friday on misdemeanor counts of battery, family violence, and cruelty to children.
Creflo Dollar told his congregation on Sunday that the incident stemmed from an argument with his 15-year-old daughter over a party she wanted to attend--and that it did not involve a crime, and he should not have been arrested.
The facts of the Dollar case are murky, but this much is clear: A domestic-violence case involving a prominent black family in Atlanta was handled in a radically different fashion from a similar case involving a member of a prominent white family with a strong base in Atlanta. In fact, the cases are not all that similar; the charges against a member of the white family were far more serious than those brought against Creflo Dollar--and yet, law enforcement acted in a more aggressive fashion in the Dollar case.
That raises this troubling question: Does racism play a factor in the way law enforcement approaches sensitive domestic cases, especially here in the Deep South. Is a member of a prominent, wealthy black family likely to be treated more aggressively by officers than a member of a prominent, wealthy white family?
Our research on cases involving Creflo Dollar and Ted Rollins indicates the answer is yes.
Ted Rollins belongs to the family that oversees Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., the parent company of Orkin Pest Control. Ted's billionaire cousins, R. Randall and Gary Rollins, are the top executives at Rollins Inc. and are two of the wealthiest individuals in Atlanta--or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter. Ted Rollins now is the CEO of Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, a developer of student housing, but he has worked jointly with Randall Rollins on at least one enterprise--a real-estate investment firm called St. James Capital.
We have written extensively about a dubious divorce action Ted Rollins brought in Alabama, causing his ex wife, Sherry Carroll Rollins, and their daughters, Sarah and Emma Rollins, to wind up on food stamps here in Birmingham. In the process of researching Rollins v. Rollins, I uncovered an assault case that was brought against Ted Rollins in Franklin County, North Carolina.
How were Creflo Dollar and Ted Rollins treated differently when charges of domestic violence arose against both of them? Let's take a look:
* Officers responded to a 911 call from the Dollar home, took evidence and interviewed at least two witnesses before arresting Rev. Dollar. In the Rollins case, officers responded to a 911 call from Sherry Rollins, and when sirens could be heard approaching in the distance, Ted Rollins ceased beating his stepson and fled the scene in an automobile. According to Sherry Rollins, an eyewitness to the entire event, officers made no particular effort to find Mr. Rollins.
* Based on press reports, it appears that authorities pursued charges against Rev. Dollar. In the Rollins case, Zac Parrish had to swear out a criminal complaint himself. Since Ted Rollins fled the scene and officers made little or no attempt to find him, no charges probably would have been brought without the Parrish complaint.
* What kind of injuries did Creflo Dollar's daughter sustain? A deputy noted a mark on her neck, but Dollar said it was caused by a skin condition, eczema, and had been there for 10 years. There is no indication that the daughter required medical attention. In the Rollins case, Zac Parrish was bleeding profusely from cuts and abrasions on his face, he had a broken nose, and he was transported via ambulance to a hospital emergency room. During transit to the hospital, emergency-medical technicians administered oxygen, which is a sign that Parrish was in danger of going into shock, which can be a life-threatening condition.
* The Creflo Dollar case has been splashed all over major news outlets in the South and beyond, with prominent coverage in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I've seen no signs that the Ted Rollins case was covered by any newspaper in North Carolina, even though several metro dailies are not far from Franklin County.
To be sure, these two events took place in different jurisdictions, 17 years apart, with one in a major city (Atlanta) and the other in a rural county (one that is not far from the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina). Those factors could account for some differences in the way the cases were handled.
But one cannot escape the glaring impression that law enforcement treated a black man more aggressively than it did a white man, under circumstances where the black man's alleged misconduct did not appear nearly as serious as the white man's misconduct.
This all becomes more disturbing when you consider that Rollins Inc. has a documented history of committing gross fraud against black customers.
Does Ted Rollins come from an environment where family members are taught to expect favors from the justice system, based on their white skin and substantial bank accounts?
If so, it seems clear that Creflo Dollar is receiving no such favors.