Rollins found guilty of in­de­cent ex­po­sure

State’s at­tor­ney’s fu­ture un­cer­tain with con­vic­tion

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney El­lis Rollins III was found guilty of one count each of in­de­cent ex­po­sure and dis­or­derly con­duct Fri­day, af­ter a jury de­lib­er­ated about four hours over the bizarre case stem­ming from in­ci­dents on June 21 and June 22 in Ocean City.

Rollins, 61, also was ac-

SNOW HILL

quit­ted of two iden­ti­cal charges re­lat­ing to the first day of the al­leged in­ci­dents, but the jury, which con­sisted of 10 men and two women, re­turned guilty ver­dicts in re­la­tion to sec­ond day’s in­ci­dents – which were wit­nessed by ad­di­tional par­ties, in­clud­ing two po­lice of­fi­cers us­ing binoc­u­lars.

Ce­cil County’s top pros­e­cu­tor looked un­fazed as the jury fore­man re­turned the ac­quit­tal ver­dicts, but then low­ered his head as the guilty ones were an­nounced. Mo­ments later, af­ter tak­ing his seat at the de­fense ta­ble, Rollins leaned for­ward with his hands to his face.

Rollins, who had opted not to tes­tify in his own de­fense, de­clined to com­ment on the guilty ver­dicts and on his pro­fes­sional plans in light of them, ex­plain­ing that his sen­tenc­ing is pend­ing.

He did, how­ever, di­vulge the jury’s guilty-ac­quit­tal tally that was re­ported to the judge, pros­e­cu­tion and de­fense about three hours into de­lib­er­a­tion mid-Fri­day after­noon — when jurors re­turned to the court­room and in­formed Worces­ter County Cir­cuit Court Judge Brian Shock­ley that they were dead­locked on three of the four charges.

At that point, ac­cord­ing to Rollins, it was 7 to 5 in fa­vor of ac­quit­tal on the June 22 in­de­cent ex­po­sure charge; 7 to 5 in fa­vor of guilty on the June 22 dis­or­derly con­duct charge; 10 to 2 in fa­vor of ac­quit­tal on the June 21 in­de­cent ex­po­sure charge and 12 to 0 in fa­vor of ac­quit­tal on the June 21 dis­or­derly con­duct charge.

The judge in­structed the jurors to con­tinue their de­lib­er­a­tion and sent them back to the jury room. Ap­prox­i­mately an hour later, the jury re­turned to the court­room with its unan­i­mous ver­dicts, two guilty and two not guilty.

This marks the end of a dis­as­trous year for Rollins, who has served as Ce­cil County’s elected state’s at­tor­ney since 2011. Rollins, who was the pre­sump­tive fa­vorite for an open Ce­cil

County Cir­cuit Court judge­ship, now faces a pos­si­ble pun­ish­ment of up to three years in prison and, or, a $1,000 fine for in­de­cent ex­po­sure and up to 60 days in jail and, or, a $500 fine for dis­or­derly con­duct.

While Shock­ley wanted to move to sen­tenc­ing af­ter re­ceiv­ing the ver­dict Fri­day after­noon, both the de­fense and pros­e­cu­tion said they were un­pre­pared for that pro­ceed­ing. Sen­tenc­ing will be set for a date some­time af­ter De­cem­ber.

About a week be­fore the in­ci­dents in ques­tion oc­curred, Rollins had made the short­list for the county judge­ship, which both his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther had held. Days af­ter Rollins’ ar­rest, Gov. Larry Hogan ex­pressed mis­giv­ings about po­ten­tially ap­point­ing an em­bat­tled Rollins to the bench. A few days af­ter that, the state’s at­tor­ney dropped out of con­tention in order to fo­cus on his de­fense in the in­de­cent ex­po­sure case. Hogan later ap­pointed Wil­liam W. Davis Jr., an Elk­ton de­fense at­tor­ney, to that judge­ship.

While Rollins has not re­signed from his post as state’s at­tor­ney, he has not pros­e­cuted any cases since his ar­rest and in­stead has served only in an ad­min­is­tra­tive ca­pac­ity. His con­vic­tions could lead to re­moval from of­fice, how­ever, un­der the Mary­land Con­sti­tu­tion. Four key eye­wit­nesses On Thurs­day, four Penn­syl­va­nia women tes­ti­fied that, from their ad­ja­cent ho­tel, they wit­nessed Rollins sug­ges­tively dance naked and mas­tur­bate di­rectly in front of the slid­ing glass door of his high-rise Ocean City ho­tel on sev­eral oc­ca­sions on June 21 and June 22.

Those four wit­nesses, who are in their 50s, con­tended that Rollins in­ten­tion­ally ex­hib­ited him­self to them, ap­pear­ing at his slid­ing glass door within min­utes af­ter they would en­ter the bal­cony of their ho­tel some 175 feet away, and they al­leged he made eye con­tact with them nu­mer­ous times. The women did not know Rollins.

More­over, two of those women tes­ti­fied that they saw Rollins and his wife, Holly, en­gage in sex­ual in­ter­course in front of that slid­ing glass door of their 10th-floor room at the Clar- ion Re­sort Foun­tainebleau Ho­tel at 10100 Coastal High­way in Ocean City.

Karen Lynn, of Harrisburg, Pa., tes­ti­fied that her sis­ter, Lisa Smith, also of Harrisburg, and two of their friends wit­nessed Rollins dance naked — us­ing a cell­phone as a prop and pan­tomim­ing “hump­ing” the couch at one point — and mas­tur­bate while they were try­ing to en­joy the beach view from their 12th-floor room at their ad­ja­cent At­lantis Con­do­minium.

The women were in Ocean City that week for their an­nual “girls week­end” while Rollins was there for a Mary­land State’s At­tor­neys As­so­ci­a­tion con­ven­tion, which ran from June 20 through noon June 22, some four hours be­fore po­lice ar­rested Rollins at the ho­tel and later re­leased him.

From their bal­cony, Lynn and Smith saw Rollins nude in­side his room in the early after­noon of June 21, but they found it amus­ing be­cause they con­cluded Rollins had just come out of the shower naked and was un­aware he could be seen, ac­cord­ing to their tes­ti­mony.

“We thought it was a pure, hon­est mis­take,” Smith tes­ti­fied.

How­ever, mo­ments later, Rollins “started com­ing closer to the win­dow and per­formed some kind of dance,” one in which he bent over to show his bare rear end, squat­ted and per­formed other moves, the women tes­ti­fied.

Then Rollins “opened up the screen door, so there was only glass be­tween us and him,” and, as a re­sult, they could see his pe­nis, ac­cord­ing to the sis­ters, who had come to the ho­tel a day ear­lier than their two friends, who wit­nessed only the June 22 in­ci­dents.

“I was like, ‘What the hell is go­ing on? He was look­ing right up at us. He made eye con­tact sev­eral times,’” Lynn tes­ti­fied.

Lynn tes­ti­fied that Rollins moved “right up to the edge of the slider door and was mas­tur­bat­ing,” prompt­ing them to call the Clar­ion ho­tel to com­plain. The episode they wit­nessed lasted ap­prox­i­mately 15 min­utes, ac­cord­ing to Lynn.

About 30 min­utes later, how­ever, the sec­ond episode oc­curred and played out in sim­i­lar fash­ion, ac­cord­ing to the sis­ters, who es­ti­mated that Rollins ap­peared at his slid­ing glass door “within five min­utes” af­ter they had re­turned to their bal­cony area.

Rollins later had sex with his wife in front of the slid­ing glass door that after­noon, and more in­ci­dents of Rollins danc­ing naked and mas­tur­bat­ing oc­curred dur­ing the day­light hours of June 22, ac­cord­ing to the women.

At one point dur­ing her two-hour-long tes­ti­mony, Lynn turned her head and looked at Rollins at the de­fense tab as she tear­fully told him, “You’re just sick­en­ing ... I have night­mares be­cause of you.” Lynn also told Rollins that she “ar­gues” with her hus­band be­cause the al­leged in­ci­dents that she wit­nessed has been a main topic of con­ver­sa­tion for her.

Smith spoke halt­ingly for a mo­ment as she de­scribed the first al­leged in­ci­dent of mas­tur­ba­tion that she wit­nessed.

The other two women — Nancy Schrey and Glo­ria Lyn Rowe — gave sim­i­lar ac­counts from the wit­ness stand. Those women tes­ti­fied that they saw Rollins mas­tur­bate four times on June 22 and that a naked dance or a se­ries of poses pre­ceded that ac­tiv­ity.

“It was al­most like rit­u­al­ist,” Rowe tes­ti­fied.

Rowe noted that Rollins en­gaged in the ac­tiv­ity in­side his room, di­rectly in front of the slid­ing glass door sep­a­rat­ing the in­te­rior from a tiny, tri­an­gu­lar bal­cony out­side. “He was as close to that line as you could be,” Rowe tes­ti­fied, telling jurors, “I saw Mr. Rollins look di­rectly at my eyes, not me, but my eyes.”

At the re­quest of pros­e­cu­tors, two of the women stepped down from the wit­ness stand dur­ing their tes­ti­monies and demon­strated the “dance” in front of jurors.

Af­ter lodg­ing at least one com­plaint to ho­tel man­age­ment, Lynn, us­ing a dig­i­tal camera with a zoom lens, took pho­tos of Rollins dur­ing his episodes for proof, ac­cord­ing to the women’s tes­ti­mony. The state en­tered those pho­tos into ev­i­dence.

Worces­ter County State’s At­tor­ney Beau H. Oglesby, who had filed the charges against Rollins, told jurors in his clos­ing ar­gu­ment that the pho­tos taken by the women clearly show Rollins danc­ing naked and mas­tur­bat­ing.

“It is ab­so­lute cor­rob­o­ra­tion of the tes­ti­mony the four women gave you. The pho­tos show him do­ing pre­cisely what they said he had been do­ing. He did them (the acts) in such a man­ner it was open to the pub- lic. Those acts were done feet and even inches of the thresh­old,” Oglesby told jurors as he held up a photo, then an­other and an­other so they could see. “What’s most dis­turb­ing is that, dur­ing these acts, Mr. Rollins is mak­ing eye con­tact with them.”

Ad­di­tional nesses

The head of se­cu­rity at the At­lantis, Michelle Jones, called po­lice on the after­noon of June 22 af­ter go­ing to the women’s room and ob­serv­ing Rollins re­turn­ing to the slid­ing glass door and mas­tur­bat­ing within mo­ments af­ter she ar­rived to in­ves­ti­gate, she tes­ti­fied.

Jones went to that room be­cause Lynn had com­plained to At­lantis staff, af­ter ear­lier at­tempts to alert Clar­ion staff ap­par­ently had failed. Jones had told the women that she needed to wit­ness the al­leged con­duct for her­self be­fore she could take ac­tion, she said.

She could not see Rollins at first, Jones said. Fol­low­ing the in­struc­tion of the women in that room, she waited by the win­dow and Rollins ap­peared with noth­ing but a towel on within two min­utes, Jones added. Rollins then dropped the towel and en­gaged in the ac­tiv­i­ties that the women had de­scribed, Jones tes­ti­fied.

Jones told jurors that she was con­cerned for the guests at the ho­tel pool be­low, par­tic­u­larly chil­dren.

Dur­ing cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by Burke, Jones ac­knowl­edged that she did not in­clude the part about Rollins mas­tur­bat­ing in the state­ment that she gave in­ves­ti­ga­tors shortly af­ter the in­ci­dent, when, the de­fense lawyer prof­fered, her rec­ol­lec­tion would have been bet­ter than now.

One OCPD of­fi­cer, Sgt. Gre­gory DeGio­vanni, could not see Rollins from nearby Coastal High­way af­ter re­spond­ing to a com­plaint about a nude man on the bal­cony, he tes­ti­fied. When he used his binoc­u­lars, how­ever, he spot­ted Rollins naked near the slid­ing glass door — but did not wit­ness him con­duct any be­hav­ior, he told jurors.

“He seemed very ca­sual about stand­ing there,” DeGio­vanni tes­ti­fied.

The other re­spond­ing OCPD of­fi­cer, Pfc. Kevin Flower, went to the women’s state wit- room at the At­lantis, but, with his naked eyes, he could see only Rollins knees while seated on a couch, he said.

Then Flower covertly moved to an­other win­dow, as re­quested by the women who re­mained on their bal­cony, and, mo­ments later — this time view­ing through binoc­u­lars — he saw Rollins ap­pear naked at his slid­ing glass win­dow, he added. Rollins re­mained their mo­men­tar­ily but did not en­gage in any ac­tiv­i­ties, Flower tes­ti­fied.

The of­fi­cers ar­rested Rollins shortly there­after on the 10th floor of the Clar­ion. Both of­fi­cers ac­knowl­edged that Rollins was “po­lite” and “com­pli­ant.” The de­fense’s case The de­fense did not ag­gres­sively dis­pute that Rollins en­gaged in the ac­tiv­i­ties al­leged by the women, be­yond his de­fense at­tor­ney, Cullen M. Burke, main­tain­ing dur­ing his open­ing and clos­ing ar­gu­ments that the 37 pho­tos pros­e­cu­tors en­tered into ev­i­dence don’t clearly de­pict what, if any­thing, Rollins was do­ing.

The sole de­fense wit­ness was Rollins’ wife, Holly, who ac­knowl­edged that she and Rollins did have sex on a couch in front of the slid­ing glass door on the after­noon of June 21 and that Rollins had mas­tur­bated at some point dur­ing that en­counter.

Holly Rollins also tes­ti­fied that, two days ear­lier, she had moved the couch from its orig­i­nal spot and po­si­tioned it near the slid­ing glass win­dow so they would have a bet­ter view of the ocean. She was obliv­i­ous to the ad­ja­cent ho­tel, Holly Rollins tes­ti­fied.

In ad­di­tion, she tes­ti­fied that their cell phones were in a charger plugged into an out­let near the slid­ing glass doors and that, con­se­quently, they fre­quently went their to make and re­ceive phone calls and text mes­sages.

Burke, who had de­scribed Rollins and his wife as “still new­ly­weds” af­ter six years of mar­riage, told jurors that it wouldn’t be un­com­mon for them to walk around naked in­side their home or ho­tel room.

Holly Rollins tes­ti­fied that there were times dur­ing their stay when her hus­band was alone in their ho­tel room.

Be­fore Holly Rollins took the stand Fri­day morn­ing, the judge ad­vised her that she could pos­si­bly “in­crim­i­nate” her­self and could “open your­self up to pros­e­cu­tion in Worces­ter County.”

Burke con­tended that what­ever ac­tiv­i­ties the women wit­nessed had taken place in the pri­vacy of Rollins’ ho­tel room — not in pub­lic, specif­i­cally on his bal­cony, as was er­ro­neously re­ported at the out­set.

Burke main­tained that the women would not have been able to look Rollins in the eyes, or vice versa, from their re­spec­tive van­tage points more than a half­foot­ball field away from each other.

“For them to claim they made eye con­tact from that dis­tance is just not be­liev­able,” he said.

Burke also ques­tioned how much de­tail the women could have seen, without the aid of a zoom-lens camera. “Ev­ery piece of in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence is un­der mag­ni­fi­ca­tion,” Burke told jurors.

Af­ter ex­press­ing dis­be­lief that the women were able to zero in on Rollins’ amid all the other rooms on that side of the sprawl­ing Clar­ion ho­tel, Burke in­sisted, “He wasn’t watch­ing them; they were watch­ing him.”

More­over, Burke as­serted that po­lice pho­tos taken dur­ing the post-ar­rest in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which Oglesby over­saw on lo­ca­tion, did not ac­cu­rately por­tray the mea­sured dis­tance of 172 feet be­tween the two ho­tel rooms in ques­tion.

“This room (Rollins’ room) was a speck in their vi­sion. They had the en­tire At­lantic Ocean, all the way to Spain to look at,” Burke told jurors.

Burke also ar­gued that the women sim­ply could have looked else­where. He then sug­gested that, had the sit­u­a­tion in­volved four men com­plain­ing af­ter watch­ing a woman in an ad­ja­cent ho­tel “get­ting nude, danc­ing around and fondling her pri­vate parts, it would have been han­dled dif­fer­ently.

“They’d (ho­tel se­cu­rity) tell them, ‘Find a real prob­lem, buddy,” Burke said.

Burke also main­tained that Rollins was far­ther away from the slid­ing glass door and that the women were “ex­ag­ger­at­ing.”

ROLLINS

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