Ted Rollins is the CEO of a company that in late 2010 completed a $380-million IPO on Wall Street--and as head of Campus Crest Communities, Rollins markets student housing to young people. So it is grimly ironic that the same Ted Rollins once beat a young person so severely that the teen-ager's face was a bloody mask.
In a videotaped interview with Legal Schnauzer, Sherry Carroll Rollins describes an act of domestic violence that fits every definition of child abuse that we can find. Ms. Rollins is Ted Rollins' ex wife, and she now lives in Birmingham with the couple's daughters, Sarah and Emma. The full interview can be viewed at the end of this post, but let's first consider the stark, unflinching language that Sherry Rollins uses to describe the condition of Zac Parrish, her son who was about 15 at the time, after he had been beaten by Ted Rollins:
I couldn't tell what his injuries were exactly. He was stumbling as he walked toward the house. His face was all blood . . . as if he had no eyes, completely covered. There was no way of seeing his eyes. How he walked, I don't know. He stumbled into the house as the ambulance was coming. He said he felt he should get the gun . . . and started looking for the gun. I asked him what he was trying to do, and he said, "I'm going to use it on him." He wanted to kill Ted.
This account leaves us with at least two glaring questions: (1) If Ted Rollins committed a grotesque act of child abuse, why has he never been held accountable for it? (2) Why have investors poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a company that is led by a man with a record of child abuse?
Rollins was head of American Textile Services, near Louisburg, North Carolina, when he exploded with anger one fall afternoon in 1995. Rollins' rage was directed at Zac Parrish, his stepson from Sherry Rollins' first marriage. The Zac Parrish beating was one of several events that led to a breakdown of the Rollins marriage, ending with a 2005 divorce judgment in Shelby County, Alabama--even though Sherry Rollins had initiated the proceedings in Greenville, South Carolina, where the family lived by 2001, and the case was litigated there for three years.
Zac Parrish, now 33, is managing member of Parrish Building Company in Birmingham and responded with a profanity-filled tirade when I recently asked him for an interview on subjects related to Rollins v. Rollins.
As we have reported in a series of posts, the Rollins divorce case could not lawfully be shifted to Alabama once jurisdiction was established in South Carolina. But the change in judicial scenery led to an outrageously favorable outcome for Ted Rollins, causing Ms. Rollins and her daughters to wind up on food stamps. How was Ted Rollins able to pull this off? Well, he is a member of one of the nation's wealthiest families, the folks behind Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., the umbrella company of Orkin Pest Control. It also probably helped that Campus Crest Communities' primary corporate law firm is Birmingham-based Bradley Arant. The Rollins v. Rollins divorce case provides ample evidence that money and connections can help buy "justice" in an Alabama courtroom.
Now the story has a new element. Bradley Arant and Shelby County Circuit Judge D. Al Crowson did more than just create a friendly environment for a corporate big dog. They aided a man who has a documented history of committing child abuse. What does that say about the values of the lawyers at a powerful Alabama firm--and of a judge in one of our most conservative, "pro family" jurisdictions?
Parents and teens have been having "go arounds" for centuries, but Sherry Rollins describes something much darker than a standard family spat. She describes an act of frightening brutality, and it started when Ted Rollins was mowing grass, with his stepson nearby, in the rural area where they lived:
I was not aware of what was said between Ted and Zac. I came on the scene of the assault when I heard loud screaming and loud talking and the dog barking. I had my daughter, Sarah, who was about 18 months old, on my hip. I saw Ted on top of Zac, with his knees around his chest, and Zac was flat on his back, and Ted was hitting him in the head. Ted is 6-4, and Zac at the time weighed roughly, I'd say, 100 pounds.
He was defenseless in that Ted is so big and weighed at the time 225 to 230 pounds, at least, and was on top of him--sitting on Zac's abdomen and holding him down with his knees and pummeling him in the face. Zac had no choice but to take the strikes that were coming at him and turn his head from side to side.
It sounds like Ted Rollins might have killed his stepson if Sherry Rollins had not figured out a way to intervene:
I put Sarah down and went inside and got the house phone and called Zac's father in Alabama and put the phone on Ted's ear and said, "You've got to stop beating Zac; Zac's father wants to talk to you." He just ignored me. At that point, I jumped on his back and shook him repeatedly and tried to pull him off Zac. I ripped his shirt, a cotton knit golf shirt, which is pretty hard to tear. . . . When that didn't have any affect on Ted hitting Zac, I dialed 911. Only when Ted heard the 911 sirens . . . did he get off Zac.
As we fast forward to 2010, investors were heaping $380 million on Campus Crest Communities, turning it into a Wall Street darling at a time when mainstream Americans were struggling with the worst economy since the Great Depression.
Does it concern the corporate lawyers and investment gurus who drive IPOs that Ted Rollins has a history of abusing a child under his care? Do they see irony in the fact that Ted Rollins, who once left his own stepson a bloody mess, now markets student housing to college students and their parents?
And here's the biggest question of all: Why was Ted Rollins never held fully accountable for what appears to be a clear act of child abuse, under the law?
We will be addressing those questions, and much more, in upcoming posts. For now, here is the full Sherry Rollins interview: