Rollins Resigns as Cecil County State’s Attorney, After Conviction on Sex-Related Charges; Kept Collecting Salary for Months

February 13, 2017
By

Edward D.E. “Ellis” Rollins III has resigned as Cecil County State’s Attorney, after clinging to his job and its nearly $150,000 taxpayer-paid salary and benefits for months after he was charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct stemming from alleged sex-related incidents in Ocean City.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday 2/14/2017 in Worcester County Circuit Court for his 12/9/2016 conviction on two charges after a two-day jury trial. He was found not guilty on two other counts, one each of indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.

For the two charges on which Rollins was convicted, “indecent exposure” is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, “disorderly conduct” is a misdemeanor, punishable by a sentence of 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine

Since charges were filed against him last June, Rollins has not appeared in local courtrooms to prosecute cases, leaving the already thinly-staffed office short-handed. Rollins was said to be working on administrative matters in his office, but multiple sources told Cecil Times that Rollins was essentially AWOL, and there were even times that papers needing signature had to be brought to him off-site.

Nevertheless, taxpayers continued to pay salary and benefits. According to county payroll records, Rollins’ annual salary and benefits cost taxpayers nearly $150,000 a year. So for July through January, the costs of his salary and benefits amounted to $87,500, for full services apparently not supplied.

Rollins sent an email on Monday morning to Cecil County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Keith Baynes informing the judge that Rollins was resigning, effective last Friday afternoon, the judge confirmed. That step sets in motion provisions specified by the Maryland Constitution to fill the State’s Attorney position on an interim basis.

Baynes said that the Circuit Court judges will meet on Tuesday morning to “discuss” the situation and how to proceed. He said he had no idea how long it might take for the judges to pick a replacement for Rollins.

The state Constitution provides that, if there is a vacancy—due to death, resignation or removal from office—for a county State’s Attorney, it is the judges sitting on the local Circuit Court bench who decide who should fill the position until the next election, when the voters would decide upon a replacement. There are about two years left on Rollins’ term of office before a new State’s Attorney would be selected by county voters in November, 2018. (Rollins is a Republican, who was elected to one four-year term and then re-elected in 2014.)

The Maryland Constitution also provides that an elected State’s Attorney can be removed from office for “incompetence, 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 General…”

That language indicated that the State Attorney General could have intervened in the matter, at least clearly after Rollins’ December conviction, to declare a vacancy in the office and set in motion the process for the judges’ to select a replacement. But the office of Attorney General Brian Frosh was notably silent on the matter, declining to respond to emails or phone calls from CECIL TIMES since last December. Sources said some official requests for information or clarification of the constitutional procedures met similar non-responses for several months.

Since Rollins was charged, deputy State’s Attorney Steve Trostle has essentially been running the office, multiple sources said. One assistant state’s attorney resigned recently, further reducing staff to prosecute cases in local courts.

During a recent Cecil County Council worksession, county Finance Director Winston Robinson advised that the State’s Attorney’s office was over budget in the current fiscal year by about $45,000. He said the reason was that some salary raises had not been included in the current budget year request but costs had been incurred. Robinson noted at the time that the fiscal issue might be related to the “turmoil” in that office but might also be offset by the end of the fiscal year through staff “attrition.”

The departure of Rollins and the one assistant state’s attorney creates two vacant prosecutorial slots in the office.

The Rollins case has caused embarrassment for Cecil County in state political and legal circles, as well as bringing negative state, national and international publicity to the county at a time when local officials are trying to put the best face forward of a pro-business, economically viable community to attract new businesses and economic development.

The salacious nature of the Rollins case may have drawn the headlines, but perhaps more significant has been the long drawn-out shadow over county operations and the impact on taxpayers, including business interests.

The charges against Rollins stem from multiple alleged incidents in Ocean City last year, while Rollins was attending a taxpayer-funded trip to a convention of the Maryland States’ Attorney’s Association.

He was accused of masturbating, performing sex acts and nudity in clear view of other vacationers in the oceanside resort while standing directly in front of a glass balcony door of his hotel room. Several women, who were staying at an adjacent hotel, testified at the trial that they witnessed Rollins’ sexual performances on multiple occasions over a two-day period. The jury only convicted Rollins of acts that were also witnessed by a hotel security officer who had been summoned by the women.

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2 Responses to Rollins Resigns as Cecil County State’s Attorney, After Conviction on Sex-Related Charges; Kept Collecting Salary for Months

  1. His babygirl on February 13, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    I think this is so stupid all because he’s a state’s attorney he’s human to treat him like you would others.

  2. J. Igo on February 22, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Now that Mr. Rollins is now out of office, it’s time to pay back to Cecil County the cost of his trip, salary, mileage and anything else he charged to the county. Since he was arrested on this junket and can pay financially for it. I’m surprised no one has asked for this money back especially since he kept his salary after his arrest and after his conviction.

    So the friends of County Executive and County Council need to put this on the agenda and give back to the people of Cecil County take which we deserve.

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