A CEO who helped his company complete a $380-million Wall Street IPO less than two years ago was investigated for child sexual abuse in 1993.
The revelations come as former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky is expected to be sentenced next month for his conviction in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. The Sandusky case helped place the issue, especially where the victims are boys, on front pages across the country.
We wrote at the time that the Sandusky story represented the tip of a deeply disturbing iceberg in U.S. society, one that largely has been covered up since the Franklin Scandal hit political circles in the late 1980s and early '90s.
Now, we see evidence of child sexual abuse connected to the corporate world.
Ted Rollins, as chief executive of Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, develops and markets student housing under The Grove banner at 36 sites around the country. The company promotes its apartment complexes as a source of "fully loaded living" for students who seek more than the spartan quarters offered by college dorms of yesteryear.
The business model revolves around the ability to sell parents on the idea that living at The Grove complexes will promote academic and personal growth for young people. It's grim irony then that North Carolina social-services officials once received a complaint about a possible sexually abusive relationship between Ted Rollins and his stepson.
That sparked an investigation that included three visits to the Rollins home by a representative from the North Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS). The family was referred for counseling sessions at Duke University.
No punitive actions were taken against Ted Rollins, but he was convicted two years later for assaulting his stepson. Under North Carolina law, that incident should have been treated as a case of child abuse. Multiple law-enforcement and health-care responders were required by law to report the assault as a case of suspected child abuse, but public records show they failed to do so.
Rollins was married to Sherry Carroll Rollins at the time, and she had two sons from a previous marriage. The younger of her sons was the subject of the sexual-abuse investigation. Ted and Sherry Rollins would have two daughters of their own before being divorced in 2005. Ms. Rollins and the girls, Sarah and Emma, live in Birmingham; Ted Rollins has remarried and lives in Greenville, South Carolina.
Records from child-abuse investigations are not made public, but two members of the Rollins family confirmed to us that Ted Rollins was investigated for child sexual abuse. A complaint from an unknown citizen, alleging inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature, sparked the inquiry.
A source has described to us events that indicate something was seriously amiss with the relationship between Ted Rollins and his stepson, who was in the 12-to-14 age range during the time covered by the investigation.
Were details disclosed to us shared with investigators back in 1993? That is not clear. But if those details were disclosed, and DSS did not take decisive action, the agency was negligent and helped put a child at serious risk.
The information we received is deeply disturbing--every bit as stomach churning as testimony from the Sandusky trial--and it raises questions about Ted Rollins' fitness to be CEO of a major company, especially one whose target audience is young people.
We tried to interview Ted Rollins on this subject, but he did not respond to our questions.
(To be continued)