This is truly one of the more disturbing and bizarre criminal cases of the year. Kathy Rowe, 53, was shouldering a huge load with a severely disabled daughter and ill husband. She not only worked full time but slept in a chair in her daughter’s room every night. She was such an extraordinary mother that, in 2006, was picked as one of San Diego’s 50 best moms and mother of the year in 2007. She is now looking at jail time for how she decided to get a house that she felt was meant for her family.
When a house opened up in the Carmel Valley neighborhood that she loved, she quickly visited it and found it had all of the elements that she wanted: single story, private garden, and even a pool. The problem is that another couple bought the house. Rowe offered the couple $100,000 more than the $779,000 they paid, but the Rices never responded. Most would leave it there but Rowe was a woman on a mission. She started to carry out a series of dangerous pranks to drive the Rice family from the home.
Jerald Rice discovered that his wife, Janice Ruhter, had been listed with her address and photograph on an Internet sex site. Rowe pretended to be Ruhter and told men: “Adult entertainment of all types when my husband is not home,” the ads said. “Not for the faint of heart. Come see me during the day while my husband is at work and we can get our freak on.”
Men started to appear at the house and it was discovered later that Rowe was pretending to be Rice and enticing them. “Just stop by any Monday-Friday 9am-3pm” she wrote, “I like the element of surprise.” When one man asked for an address, Rowe gave him the Rice’s address. The man spotted Rice but Rowe told him not to worry. “Once in a while my husband drops by during the day to see if he can catch me in the act. He knows about my men…. Are you into threesomes?” She also reportedly stopped the mail of the Rice family around Christmas and ordered a torrent of books and magazines to be delivered.
Thousands of items were ordered in their name. Then someone sent Valentine’s Day cards to the couple’s female neighbors. One husband confronted Rice with a card reading “Thinking of you.”
The FBI finally interviewed Rowe — just one year after she lost the house bid. She finally admitted to the pranks, though “pranks” hardly capture the act of sending strange men to a woman’s home during the day. She told one man that “I love to be surprised and have a man just show up at the door and force his way in the door on me, totally taking me while I say no.” She added that she particularly liked anal sex and sent the man a picture of Ruhter.
Rowe apologized to Rice and Ruhter and reached a confidential, out-of-court financial settlement. She still faced two felony counts of solicitation of rape and sodomy and misdemeanor counts of harassment and using another’s personal information. After a trial judge threw out the solicitation charges (on the controversial notion that the email exchanges were for consensual sex), an appeals court reinstated the charges.
Rowe is fighting to stay out of jail pending trial on the grounds that if she goes to prison, there will be no one to take care of her cancer-stricken husband and her daughter.
Truly a sad story.
Source: LA Times