The Rev. Kennis Rolle, Sr. is facing charges sexually abused female inmates in the Harford County Detention Center, where he was the chaplain. (Harford County Sheriff’s Office)
A chaplain at the Harford County Detention Center has been charged with second degree assault, fourth degree sex offense and misconduct in office, according to police. The Rev. Kennis Rolle, Sr., 59, was terminated after the charges were filed, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.
Chaplains are members of the clergy attached to a private chapel, institution, ship, branch of the armed forces, etc. Chaplains are expected to serve the spiritual and emotional needs of others. Some chaplains perform wedding or funeral ceremonies, deliver spiritual messages, offer prayer at public meetings, and provide regular counseling.
“We placed him in a position of trust to be able to counsel the prisoners and give them assistance, give them hope and give them spiritual guidance. And to violate that trust is just horrific,” said Major. William Davis, commander of the police operations bureau with Harford County Sheriff’s Office. “He was a trusted employee of the Sheriff’s office.”
Detectives spoke with two of Rolle’s alleged victims, a 31-year-old and a 26-year-old, both female inmates, who claimed Rolle touched them inappropriately at scheduled and unscheduled counseling sessions in the Chaplains office of the detention center. According to the two female inmates, the sexual advances included unwanted and unwelcome hugs, kisses on the forehead, and cheek, and touches of the face, hair, and buttocks on the outside of their clothing during the Fall of 2014 and again between December 2015 and February of this year.
“The sheriff was extremely upset with this situation. That’s a very trusted position,” said Davis.
“We hold all agency members to the highest level of integrity. I am deeply disappointed that someone who has been put in a position of confidence to assist people during vulnerable points of their lives, has violated that trust. This type of behavior will not be tolerated in this agency,” Sheriff Jeffery Gahler said in a statement.
Rolle, who is a resident of Middle River, has been a Harford County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain since September 7, 2012. He was assigned to the detention center in Bel Air. Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division and Office of Professional Standards launched an investigation into the allegations.
The first victim came forward on her own and the second was found during the initial investigation stated Davis.
“We are continuing that investigation to see if there are any others out there at this time. We don’t know of any at this time, but if there is anyone else who was there, who has allegations, we certainly want to know about them,” said Davis in a media briefing.
“He could use his authority to either scare them so they wouldn’t come forward and things of that sense. That’s what makes this so much worse,” said Davis.
According to the Sheriff’s office, Rolle turned himself in at the Harford County Detention Center without incident June 1 and was released on a pre-set bail of $50,000.
Rolle did not respond to a request for comment from the AFRO.
There is no immediate information on a trial date or hearing for Rolle at this time.
Anyone who has any information pertaining to this case, or who feels they may have been a victim, is encouraged to call Detective Christopher Maddox of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division at 443-409-3551.