In the wake of the Penn State scandal, state legislatures considered a blizzard of bills that would strengthen requirements for reporting suspected child abuse. By our count, 14 states passed what could be called "Jerry Sandusky laws."
These new measures appear to be a reaction to the Sandusky case, where the former Penn State assistant football coach was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. The states seem to be saying, "We want to make sure that someone like Jerry Sandusky cannot take advantage of children in our jurisdiction."
So consider the irony that states are welcoming Campus Crest Communities, a Charlotte-based development company that has student-housing projects completed, or in the works, at 36 sites across the country. No one seems concerned that CEO Ted Rollins has an assault conviction on his record, for the brutal 1995 beating of his 16-year-old stepson in Franklin County, North Carolina. The beating, which caused the stepson to be rushed to a hospital emergency room via ambulance, clearly was a case of child abuse, as defined by North Carolina law. But the case went unreported in the press, and Rollins got off with what amounts to a wrist slap in court.
The business community seems to have no problems with the ugliness in Rollins' past. Investors rewarded his company with a $380-million Wall Street IPO in late 2010. And the CEO was a guest on the Fox Business Network's "Closing Bell" on Monday, discussing his plans to make boatloads of cash by renting apartments to college students. (You can view the video at the end of this post.)
In the first few moments of the interview, Rollins states that he started Campus Crest Communities in 2004, so it existed when his Alabama divorce was finalized in 2005. That means the company was a marital asset, under the law, and ex wife Sherry Carroll Rollins was entitled to a portion of the proceeds. But that did not happen, and Ted Rollins received such a favorable result from Shelby County Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson that his ex wife and two daughters, Sarah and Emma Rollins, have been on food stamps here in Birmingham.
Liz Claman, host of "Closing Bell," seemed to have zero interest in Ted Rollins' documented history as a child abuser, deadbeat dad, and courtroom cheat. Here is a question that Claman could have asked: "Mr. Rollins, you just stated that you started a student-housing company in 2004, but a child-support affidavit dated 2005 in your Alabama divorce case states that you made $50,000 a year at that time. How could you start a nationwide company when your only asset, as you swore under oath, was an annual salary of $50,000? You must be either an otherwordly business genius or a perjurer. Which one is it, Mr. Rollins?"
In essence, Ted Rollins confessed to perjury on national television--and it zipped right past Liz Claman, who was busy gushing about Campus Crest's potential to "make money." Perhaps we shouldn't expect the Fox Business Network to ask tough questions of a CEO.
As for the rash of "Jerry Sandusky laws" in 2012, we are left to ponder this troubling question: Why are states embracing a company that is led by a documented child abuser while rushing to pass new laws driven by a headline-grabbing case of child abuse? In fact, some of the states that recently passed "Sandusky laws" also have Campus Crest apartment complexes at public universities--and no one seems to have a problem with it.
How is that for irony? Do we, as a society, only care about child-abuse cases that produce shocking headlines? What about cases that were largely kept under wraps by law enforcement, health-care officials, and the press? Do we care about those victims?
When the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State erupted last year, public anger was not only directed toward Jerry Sandusky . . . but toward the people around him who didn't report their suspicions to police.
In the months that followed, that anger led many states to re-examine and expand their so-called mandatory reporting laws that require people to report suspected abuse or face civil and criminal penalties. Some state laws apply to professionals like doctors and teachers, while others apply universally to all adults.
The CSM article is based largely on a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). CSM puts the number of states passing "Sandusky laws" at 10, while my count is 14. Either way, let's focus for a moment on the following states: Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, and Washington.
Those four states passed "Sandusky laws" in 2012. They also have welcomed Campus Crest CEO Ted Rollins, a documented child abuser, into their environs. If that causes you to scratch your head, you certainly have company in me.
In fact, let's consider the full roster of states that have Campus Crest sites and ponder this question: Do these states care about the victims of child abuse or do they simply hope to avoid the kind of publicity that comes with a high-profile case such as the one involving Jerry Sandusky?
The Campus Crest roster seems to vary from source to source, but our best guess at the total number of formally approved sites is 36.
States With Student-Housing Projects by Campus Crest Communities
Auburn University--Auburn, AL
Jacksonville State University--Jacksonville, AL
Troy University--Troy, AL
University of South Alabama--Mobile, AL
Arkansas State University--Jonesboro, AR
University of Central Arkansas--Conway, AR
Colorado State University--Fort Collins, CO
University of Northern Colorado--Greeley, CO
University of West Georgia--Carrollton, GA
Georgia College--Milledgeville, GA
Georgia Southern University--Statesboro, GA
University of Idaho--Moscow, ID
Ball State University--Muncie, IN
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne--Fort Wayne, IN
Iowa State University--Ames, IA
University of Kansas--Lawrence, KS
Wichita State University--Wichita, KS
University of Maine--Orono, ME
University of Missouri--Columbia, MO
New Mexico State University--Las Cruces, NM
University of North Carolina Asheville--Asheville, NC
University of Oklahoma--Norman, OK
Austin Peay State University--Clarksville, TN
Middle Tennessee State University--Murfreesboro, TN
Angelo State University--San Angelo, TX
Baylor University--Waco, TX
Hardin-Simmons University--Abilene, TX
Midwestern State University--Wichita Falls, TX
Sam Houston State University--Huntsville, TX
Stephen F. Austin University--Nacogdoches, TX
Tarleton State University--Stephenvillle, TX
Texas State University--San Marcos, TX
Texas Tech University--Lubbock, TX
University of North Texas--Denton, TX
Central Washington University--Ellensburg, WA
Eastern Washington University--Cheney, WA