|The Grove at Orono, Maine|
Residents at The Grove in Orono, Maine, have complained about mold, broken water pipes, power outages, faulty appliances, inadequate heating units, and more. Town officials vowed to investigate the problems and held a closed-door meeting with Campus Crest officials in late January. According to press reports, more than a dozen students are considering legal action.
How might UMaine students fare in a court battle with Charlotte-based Campus Crest?
Well, we know that CEO Ted Rollins belongs to one of the nation's wealthiest family--the folks behind Orkin Pest Control and parent company Rollins Inc. in Atlanta--and he has a history of using the justice system in an abusive fashion. That's what he did in the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case, which produced a grossly unlawful final judgment here in Shelby County, Alabama, and led to Ted Rollins' ex wife (Sherry Carroll Rollins) and two daughters (Sarah and Emma Rollins) winding up on food stamps. Based on a report I received yesterday afternoon, utilities had been turned off at the Rollins household in Birmingham.
We also know that Ted Rollins has a history of treating young people like punching bags--literally and figuratively. In the literal sense, Rollins was convicted for assault in the vicious 1995 beating of his 16-year-old stepson, Zac Parrish, in Franklin County, North Carolina. Under relevant state law, the beating constituted an act of child abuse, although Rollins never was charged with that. He was, however, investigated in 1993 for child sexual abuse involving the same stepson, based on a citizen complaint.
Speaking figuratively, we know that Ted Rollins has heaped ongoing abuse upon Sarah and Emma Rollins--his own flesh and blood, who now are ages 18 and 15, respectively. A judge in Greenville, South Carolina--where Sherry Rollins initiated divorce proceedings--issued a bench warrant for Ted Rollins' arrest, based on failure to pay child support. Court records show that Ted Rollins was a deadbeat dad for more than two years.
Once the girls were forced to flee with their mother to Alabama--because Ted Rollins failed to pay court-ordered mortgage and insurance payments on the marital home--the financial abuse got even worse. Here in Shelby County, Ted Rollins filed a child-support affidavit claiming he made $50,000 a year working at a mortgage company in Brentwood, Tennessee--and that was his only source of income. Perjury on the sworn document, called a CS-41, could not be more clear, public records show that Ted Rollins owned multiple private jet craft and held ownership stakes in at least two companies when the affidavit was signed. But Ted Rollins never has been held accountable for lying under oath, and the cheat job cost his daughters hundreds of thousands of dollars in support, to which they were legally entitled over the course of their childhoods.
A number students at the University of Maine want out of their leases at The Grove and say they are willing to go to court. Do they have valid legal claims? Our research indicates the answer is yes, and we will be taking a closer look at the UMaine problems in upcoming posts.
Does that mean the students are likely to prevail in court? Not necessarily. Our reporting has shown that all too many court cases around the country are decided on issues that have nothing to do with facts or laws. They often are decided by virtue of one party's willingness, and ability, to gain unlawful favor with a judge.
Before UMaine students file legal claims against Campus Crest Communities, they might want to give Sherry Carroll Rollins a call in Birmingham, Alabama. She was married to the company's CEO for 14 years and knows what it is like to fight him, and the Rollins family resources, in a court of law.
Learning about Sherry Rollins' experience has been quite an education for me. It should be required reading for all college students who have, or are thinking about, signing a lease with The Grove.
(To be continued)