Cecil County State’s Attorney Ellis Rollins Charged with Indecent Exposure, Disorderly Conduct in Ocean City Sex Case; Legal Community Ponders Local Impact
Cecil County Stateâs Attorney Edward D. âEllisâ Rollins was charged on Monday with four misdemeanor offensesâtwo counts of indecent exposure and two counts of disorderly conductâstemming from his arrest last week in Ocean City, after local police responded to citizen complaints of a naked man on a hotel balcony.
âIndecent exposureâ is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, âdisorderly conductâ is a misdemeanor, punishable by a sentence of 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. Conviction on all four counts could result in a total of six years and 120 days in prison and fines up to $3,000.
Rollins, who is in his second term as the elected Stateâs Attorney for Cecil County, was personally notified by Worcester County Stateâs Attorney Beau Oglesby, sources said. Rollins will have 30 days to appear in court to respond to the charges.
On Wednesday, 6/22/2016, at about 4 p.m., âofficers responded to the Clarion Hotel for a report of a nude male on a balcony. Officers located the room in question and ultimately took Edward D. Rollins, III of North East, MD,â into custody, Ocean City police said previously. But after consultation with Oglesby, Rollins was released from custody without formal charges, pending further police investigation.
But on Monday, Oglesby announced in a statement that âAfter consultation with the Ocean City Police Department, two counts of indecent exposure and two counts of disorderly conduct have been filed. After carefully considering which course of action would be the most appropriate given the need to handle this matter with transparency, balanced against the desire to shield the identities of the victims, filing a criminal information achieved both of those goals.â
Rollins was seen in Elkton on Monday and several sources told Cecil Times that in private conversations he denied any wrongdoing and claimed he was inside his hotel room with his wife but someone must have invaded his privacy by photographing him improperly from another hotel.
The original Ocean City police statement indicated the arrest stemmed from complaints about nudity on an outdoor hotel room balcony. A Salisbury blog published claims that witnesses saw several incidents of sexual activity, involving a man alone and with a woman, that were visible to people and children on the beach below the balcony.
Rollins was in Ocean City to attend the âsummer conferenceâ of the Maryland States Attorneys Association. Cecil County taxpayers pay for travel, meal and hotel expenses for Rollins and much of his staff to attend such conferences.
On Monday, Rollins appeared determined to remain on the job, several sources said, while the legal process proceeds in Ocean City on his criminal charges. That raised some questions in the local legal community, such as how effective he could be in prosecuting cases personally while he is himself under criminal court charges.
As Cecil Times previously reported [SEE the CECIL TIMES New Analysis report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2016/06/cecil-county-states-attorney-rollins-arrested-in-oc-for-indecent-exposure-charges-pending-police-probe-removal-from-office-possible/ ] the Maryland Constitution provides that a Stateâs Attorney can be removed from office for multiple reasons, including âincompetence, willful neglect of duty, or misdemeanors in office, on conviction in a court of law, or by a vote of two-thirds of the Senate, on the recommendation of the Attorney GeneralâŚâ
Cecil Times contacted the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh on Monday to inquire if he was considering, or would consider, any action to direct Rollins to step aside from his post at least temporarily until the charges against him are adjudicated.
Christine Tobar, deputy director of communications for the Attorney General, told Cecil Times in an email that âWe do not comment on pending lawsuits or investigations, or actions our office may or may not take.â
The state Constitution clearly directs that it is the Attorney General who has authority to intervene in matters involving the conduct of an elected local Stateâs Attorney. The local Bar Association or judges on the court bench do not have authority under the Constitution to take any action.
Now that Rollins has been formally charged with multiple criminal offenses, his fate as a judicial candidate for an appointment by Governor Larry Hogan to an opening on the Cecil County Circuit Court appears to be sealed: no way.
Hogan will name the replacement for the recently retired Circuit Court Judge V. Michael Whelan, drawing from a list of three candidates reviewed by a regional legal panel. The governor was scheduled to interview candidates for the position in the next week or so.
Rollins had been included on a recommended list of three candidates submitted to the governor by a regional judicial nominating panel. In addition to Rollins, the advisory panel recommended Edwin B. Fockler IV, an assistant public defender in Cecil County. He also applied for the 2013 Circuit Court judicial seat when the court was expanded but lost out to Brenda Sexton, who previously served as the courtâs domestic relations master.
The panel also supported Will Davis, Jr., an Elkton lawyer and a board member at Cecil College. If selected by the governor, Davis apparently would be the first African-American to sit on the local judicial bench.
The Governor is under no time constraints under which he has to make a selection. But whatever candidate he appoints would have to stand for election by the voters in the next regular election.
Meanwhile, the news of Rollinsâ arrest has made national headlines, once again subjecting Cecil County to negative publicity that casts the county in a bad light. From The New York Times to the Associated Press wire distribution to newspapers across the nation, to local and regional radio and TV news accounts, Cecil County is now tagged with a sex scandal that undermines efforts to re-cast the countyâs image as a business-friendly environment with a positive quality-of-life for new residents and employers.