A San Diego woman charged with soliciting rape in a campaign to drive a couple out of a house she wanted has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of stalking, lawyers said Tuesday.
Kathy Rowe, 53, told authorities she was suffering from extreme stress and exhaustion when she played a series of what she called "pranks" on a couple who outbid her for a house in Carmel Valley.
Rowe's campaign included placing advertisements for sex on the Internet under the name of the woman who purchased the home with her husband, according to court records. A man who responded to one of the sex ads went to the Carmel Valley house but left after the victim's husband answered the door, the records said.
In exchange for Rowe's decision to plead guilty to stalking, prosecutors agreed to drop felony charges of soliciting rape and sodomy and misdemeanor charges of identity theft and harassment, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Brendan McHugh. Conviction of soliciting rape would have required Rowe to register for life as a sex offender.
Rowe, who had no criminal record, could face up to three years in prison. But C. Bradley Patton, her lawyer, said he expects she will receive probation and possibly a period of home confinement. The probation would last three years, and the felony could eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor, Patton said. She is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9.
Patton said Rowe was relieved to have the case nearly resolved. "The emotion, tensions and stress have been overwhelming," Patton said.
Rowe was once named "Mother of the Year" in a local contest as a result of her dedication to her severely disabled daughter. Her husband also is ailing, and Rowe attributed her actions to lack of sleep and feeling overwhelmed by her responsibilities.
Rowe said that she been long searching for a home to meet her family's needs when she found the Carmel Valley house but that she lost it because of a mistake by her real estate agent.
In an attempt to get the couple to move, Rowe engaged in a campaign over 10 months that included stopping the owners' mail, then flooding the couple with junk mail and subscriptions they did not order, sending Valentine cards under the husband's name to his female neighbors and listing the house for sale on the Internet, according to court records.
Rowe insisted she never meant to harm the couple. Two men who responded to the sex ads said they understood they were for consensual sex.
The couple who purchased what Rowe called her "dream home" testified in court they were frightened and confused by all the unwanted activities and strangers at the door. They eventually went to law enforcement.
Rowe has reached an out-of-court monetary settlement with the owners.