The Glen and Danielle Rollins saga: A marriage, a mansion, a mess

Portrait of Danielle Rollins at her office in December. Rollins has been enmeshed in a bitter legal dispute with her ex-husband Glen Rollins. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Portrait of Danielle Rollins at her office in December. Rollins has been enmeshed in a bitter legal dispute with her ex-husband Glen Rollins. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Glen and Danielle Rollins’ marriage was torn asunder.

They were no longer the beaming, top-of-the-wedding-cake couple who said their vows during a lavish ceremony at New York’s Carlyle Hotel. Photos of the 1995 wedding show a pair of radiant blonds: the tuxedoed Glen, scion of the multibillion-dollar Orkin pest-control empire who would end up suing his own father; and Danielle, the bride in a shoulderless Vera Wang gown who would become an accomplished author and national authority on entertaining.

After their storybook beginning, Danielle discovered that Glen had begun consorting with prostitutes — by the time of their divorce, they numbered between 25 and 50, he has admitted in court. The couple's plan for saving their marriage after those early indiscretions was to acquire Boxwood, the sprawling estate designed by Philip Shutze at one of Atlanta’s most exclusive addresses, and pour their energy into the new home. They bought the house on Habersham Road for an estimated $5.4 million and spent another $4 million on renovations and decorating.

“I trudged through marble yards in Brooklyn and Queens in the rain and sleet looking for perfect pieces of marble that bookended to match Mr. Rollins’ bathroom,” Danielle testified in June 2014.

Marble yards, bedroom chandeliers, koi ponds, opulent bathrooms, Buckhead mansions, fabulous parties, Tiffany plates, zebra rugs, exotic travel, plastic surgery, marital betrayal, expensive prostitutes, legal bills, missing paintings, stolen doorknobs, angry judges. More legal bills. Now, Danielle faces possible jail time on contempt charges brought by her ex-husband and father of her three children.

This is how the unfathomably rich self-destruct. These are lives that most people could never imagine.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane, who has presided over the couple’s divorce, long ago threw up her hands in exasperation.

“I think this whole case should be over,” the judge told both parties. “I think there have been too many lawyers. I think there have been too many arbitrators, judges. You know, it’s like you are … just sucking the resources out of Fulton County just for the Rollinses and some cups and saucers and lamps and, you know, this is ridiculous.”

Lane made that statement in December 2014. The war still rages — the scorched-earth litigation has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees — and the fight involving the cups and saucers, lamps and patio furniture, some of them now broken or missing, seems far from over. In recent weeks, Lane found Danielle in contempt and ordered her to pay up to $578,000 in damages, fines and fees.

Legal documents and interviews with Danielle Rollins depict the spectacular flameout of a match made in the social stratosphere that crashed to earth in divorce court. Danielle, dissatisfied with her payout of $15.35 million (plus $15,000 a month in child support), decided to lay bare the tortured history of their divorce and its aftermath. Sitting for an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she described her life with Glen, his alleged misdeeds and her disquiet with the justice system.

Accompanied by her lawyer and publicist, Danielle gave the interview in a conference room at a Buckhead apartment complex where she was renting a place while renovating her new home.

Glen Rollins, 49, declined to comment for this article.

Danielle is also suing her former divorce lawyers, saying they failed to win her a fair settlement, which also granted her custody of the couple’s three children. She also has filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the Family Division of Fulton County Superior Court.

In the recent interview, Danielle, 47, said she believes her ex-husband is determined to ruin her.

“It’d have been one thing to have screwed me over,” she said. “But to keep kicking? And then, you know, when you’re bleeding, to keep kicking harder? That’s kind of what has happened. No amount of my losing seems to be enough. That’s what scares me. I feel pretty broken.”

Glen Rollins’ attorney, Scott Berryman, said in a statement that Glen was forced to take his ex-wife back to court after she moved out of Boxwood. Glen claimed, and a judge later agreed, that Danielle took hundreds of thousands of dollars in property belonging to him or vandalized items that remained in the mansion.

“Mr. Rollins is thankful that he has been awarded compensation for the damages,” Berryman said. “It is likely that the family court was far more lenient than a criminal court would have been.”

For her, it wasn’t love at first sight

Glen and Danielle began dating in Dallas, not long after she returned home with an English degree from Hollins University in Virginia. Glen had moved to Dallas to work at the Orkin office there and happened to move into a house just down the street from Danielle’s.

Glen had followed his father into the family business, crawling under houses as a teenaged Orkin employee. He then attended Princeton University, where he obtained an economics degree, before returning to Orkin.

Danielle said it wasn’t love at first sight, but said she eventually fell in love with Glen and followed him as he moved to Orkin offices in Raleigh and then Richmond. She worked promotions for various radio stations. Glen continued moving up the ranks until Orkin named him president in 2004.

His grandfather, O. Wayne Rollins, bought Orkin in the mid-1960s and grew his company into a pest control, oil extraction and real estate empire. Forbes magazine ranks the Rollins family as the 37th richest in America, worth an estimated $7.4 billion.

Glen and Danielle, both in their 20s, got engaged in late 1994 and set their wedding for October the following year. Before the ceremony, Danielle said, she discovered what it was like to marry into what she described as a wealthy, domineering family.

Even before the wedding, she said, Glen’s mother paid for Danielle to get a chin lift and spend a few weeks at a weight-loss spa in Switzerland. After the wedding, Ruthie Rollins financed more surgery for breast enhancements and liposuction, Danielle said.

“I never felt like I was good enough,” Danielle said. “At first I was a little offended. At that time, I thought she would want the best for me. It’s certainly nothing I would have come up with.”

Through her attorney, Ruthie Rollins declined a request for an interview.

‘I believe I’m a recovering sex addict’

The first cracks in Glen and Danielle’s marriage appeared in 2002, when Danielle was pregnant with their third child. Glen, she discovered, was seeing prostitutes.

“I was absolutely and utterly heartbroken,” she said.

But she says she still wanted to make the marriage work.

“I grew up sheltered,” she said. “I went to 13 years of parochial school. I didn’t know a lot of people who were divorced.”

That background gave her an unusual view of her wedding vows: “I didn’t get married to be happy — I got married to be married, and there are things that happen that are not good and you’re supposed to pull together and move past it.”

With the marriage crashing around them, Glen suggested they build a new life together at Boxwood, she said.

Danielle threw herself into the project, hiring Manhattan designer Miles Redd to decorate the 13,000-square-foot home. In addition to her visits to the marble yards of New York, she spent hours at auctions, antique stores and design meetings. With Redd in tow, she bought a crystal chandelier at a shop on New York’s Lexington Avenue. She had console tables shipped in from London. She brought over upholsterers from Paris.

“I thought that I was building a life with someone and putting an investment towards our future and our family’s future, and that this would be the house that I had for the rest of my life with children, grandchildren coming home for Christmases,” Danielle testified last year.

But in 2009, two years after moving into Boxwood, Danielle said she found out Glen was seeing prostitutes again.

During what had to be painful testimony at an arbitration hearing last year, Glen owned up to his infidelities. When asked whether he had cheated on Danielle with 25 to 50 women, he answered, “I believe that’s an accurate range.”

Asked whether all of them were prostitutes, Glen said yes. He admitted to having sex with prostitutes at Boxwood. He had sex with strippers. He had a five-month affair with a prostitute named Vivian.

“I believe I’m a recovering sex addict,” he said.

Glen Rollins and siblings sue their father

The drama extended beyond Boxwood.

In September 2010, Glen, joined by three siblings, sued his father, Gary, the company's CEO, and his uncle, Randall, the company's chairman. The suit accused the patriarchs of abusing their control over a complex array of family trusts and companies, pulling out $47 million and cutting off their nine children's incomes if they didn't meet a code of conduct.

The trust agreement enabled the elder Rollinses to demand drug tests, medical records and credit checks to monitor their children’s conduct.

“We found that offensive,” Glen told the AJC after filing suit.

Glen, the oldest of Gary’s children, was fired as president of Orkin, and the four siblings’ trust incomes were cut off by their father and uncle.

Two days after the siblings sued their father, Ruthie, siding with her children, filed for divorce against Gary. One year later, Danielle filed for divorce but then withdrew the petition. In early 2012, she filed suit again in the case that led to the end of their marriage.

In addition to his cheating, Danielle alleged Glen had become controlling and abusive, according to court filings. This included persistent berating of Danielle and demands that she meet his expectations of the ideal woman, she said.

A $15 million payout, plus child support

On the eve of their divorce trial in December 2013, Glen and Danielle reached a settlement.

Glen got to keep Boxwood. He agreed to give Danielle $15.35 million and to pay child support. An arbitrator would oversee the division of home furnishings the couple had acquired for Boxwood.

Danielle also believes she didn’t get a fair shake in the division of property. Regardless, this is what has Danielle on the precipice of a jail term.

After the arbitrator issued his ruling, Danielle only had a few days to move out of Boxwood and take out the things awarded to her. After she left, Glen found that many items awarded to him were either missing or damaged.

There were deep scratches on a marble vanity, ripped curtains, ruined carpet and damaged antique crystal sconces, he said. More than 100 doorknobs — worth “tens of thousands of dollars,” Glen has testified — were removed and replaced with doorknobs from Home Depot.

Among the missing items were paintings and pieces of furniture, some that were found and returned, some that are still missing, according to court records.

On Dec. 18, 2014, Judge Lane convened a hearing to decide whether she should find Danielle in contempt of court.

‘That’s a felony, not a lapse of judgment’

During that hearing, Glen Rollins’ lawyer disclosed that he had recently taken a deposition from Danielle in which she asserted her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent more than 200 times.

At the hearing, Danielle admitted that she hadn’t given her ex-husband a full accounting of the property she removed — she used two sets of movers and two storage centers but failed to disclose both.

“I had a great lapse in judgment,” she testified.

But she also denied vandalizing anything. The damage, she said, was caused by leaks or normal wear and tear or was already present when the item was purchased.

But Judge Lane found her in contempt anyway and, in the strongest of terms, chided Danielle for abusing the court system.

“The system is meant to work on people doing right and following orders and not fooling around and lying and pleading the Fifth and then not pleading the Fifth and thinking it will all go away when you say, ‘Oh, I had a lapse in judgment,’” the judge said. “That’s a felony. That’s not a lapse of judgment.”

Lane said she believed Danielle should go to jail, but that she was too outraged to make such a decision at that time. “So I’m not, we’re not pulling out the handcuffs because I want to do this in an orderly fashion,” Lane said. “I’m going to take some time and cool down.”

Glen: ‘There was a lot of vandalism’

Danielle’s lawyer filed several appeals, but to no avail. Lane finally convened another hearing almost a year later, on Nov. 19.

Attorney Chris Corbett, representing Danielle, appeared at the hearing, but Danielle did not. Corbett argued to Lane that she did not have the authority to hear the issue — that the family court had no authority to continue operating and that she should have let another judge hear the case. But Lane denied those arguments, and, when that happened, Corbett said he would no longer participate in the hearing.

Glen then testified that there were hundreds of missing items at Boxwood when he moved back in. “There was a lot of vandalism,” he said. “It was very upsetting.”

He was followed by two appraisers who told Lane it would cost Glen more than $250,000 to replace the missing items.

Lane directed Glen’s lawyer, Berryman, to prepare an order for her, which she signed Nov. 23. It ordered Danielle to pay Glen $301,512 for missing items that had not been returned, $79,446 to repair damage from vandalism and $34,000 for 34 acts of contempt. The order also found Danielle and her lawyer, Corbett, responsible for abusive litigation tactics and required them to pay Glen another $163,759 for Berryman’s fees.

Finally, the order said, Lane reserved the right to incarcerate Danielle for her contemptuous acts. Corbett is now appealing Lane’s ruling.

When asked about Lane’s recent order and the threat of jail time, Danielle said she’s come to realize she’s not going to win anything in this dispute.

“If I don’t have this hanging over me, there’s going to be something else,” she said. “Honestly, if this went away there’d be something else tomorrow. I don’t know what would really make them happy except for my ultimate and very public demise and failure. I’m doing everything I can to move on.”

How we got the story

Danielle Rollins, author of the 2012 book, “Soiree: Entertaining with Style,” describes herself as a decorator and lifestyle/entertainment author. With architect Bill Ingram, she recently launched Rollins Ingram, a design and architecture firm, and she is also hoping to publish a second book on entertaining.

This summer, through a representative, she approached The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about her contentious court case with her ex-husband, Glen, and wanted to tell her story about how she believed she had been treated unfairly. The AJC reviewed hundreds of pages of transcripts of court hearings, legal motions and judicial orders and also attended the most recent hearing in Fulton County Superior Court in November. Danielle sat for two lengthy interviews. Glen, through his lawyer, declined.