STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) – The longtime Parks and Recreation Director in Statesboro-Bulloch County has been fired over allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.
Michael Rollins was terminated on Wednesday. He had been the director for 32 years.
A letter penned to Rollins from Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch details the circumstances surrounding his firing. It mentions several different incidents involving the Parks and Recreation Director and women in the community, including a county employee.
In the letter, Couch says Rollins reportedly made “lewd remarks” to a woman in a parking lot of a local convenience store on Thursday, Sept. 19.
The county manager stated he was able to identify Rollins by a social media photo that included the license plate number of a Bulloch County truck assigned to the Parks and Recreation Director.
Rollins claimed the woman “made an obscene hand gesture,” prompting his return of the gesture, according to Couch’s letter.
An investigation into the matter brought two other incidents involving Rollins to light.
“Another adult female consented to be interviewed concerning a circumstance whereby during the month of August into September of 2019, you made repeated and persistent attempts to contact her,” Couch wrote. “These attempts originated from a casual conversation with you during her visit at the water park last summer.”
The county manager goes on to say that the woman claimed Rollins made frequent calls to her at work and sent text messages to which she didn’t respond.
“At one point, you asked her to meet you proximate to a field complex at Mill Creek Park after normal business hours to pick up some Splash in the ‘Boro ‘Flow Rider’ tee-shirts you had offered for her children. While the complainant felt very uneasy about this request, she went to Mill Creek Park at the time you specified accompanied by a female neighbor,” stated Couch. “The complainant alleges that you asked her to go with you to the field complex building to retrieve the shirts, but she declined, as she felt uncomfortable.”
The woman claimed that after this encounter, Rollins continued to call her at work and once approached her at a gas station in a manner that “made her extremely uncomfortable.”
“The adult female interviewed stated that collectively these incidents made her uncomfortable to the point where a request for a restraining order was being considered,” the letter states. “The interview team also spoke with one of her co-workers (another adult female) who confirmed that you repeatedly and consistently made these phone calls to the place of her employment.”
Couch wrote about a third incident reported by a female employee of Bulloch County. She apparently encountered Rollins at the same store as the original complainant.
“She reported that you commented on how good she looked in her clothing, which made her very uncomfortable,” Couch stated.
The county manager wrote that the credible statements and police reports “are very troubling.”
“This behavior constitutes serious misconduct including engaging in discrediting and offensive behavior while using county time and resources, and misrepresenting your role in the incident at the convenience store,” Couch wrote.
He added that Rollins’ behavior violates county policies including, Sexual Harassment, Professional Conduct, Inappropriate Conduct and Immoral Conduct.
“The evidence is sufficient and credible enough to warrant termination of your employment, effectively immediately,” Couch concluded.