POSTED ON AUGUST 10, 2011:
A Curious Case, Indeed
Nancy Rothman's past legal problem rise to the surface during her run for City office
The biggest news to come out of Tulsa's City Council District 2 is the re-emergence of court documents from Nancy Rothman's contentious divorce and custody battle with John Rothman.
Several thick, pale-green folders bursting with legal ping-ponging, one-upmanship, opinions and even handwritten letters tell the strange tale of one city council candidate whose personal life spun out of control.
Divorces get ugly. Arguments escalate. Enflamed emotions are fanned by lawyers and paranoia and grudge-holding.
Yet this case went further and included shocking accusations of brainwashing and sexual abuse; testimony over an attempt to plant child pornography in an ex-husband's house; and even a local psychic, Rothman's "spiritual guide," who was repeatedly forbidden by Judge Russell Hass from seeing the children.
All this and more was uncovered in the curious case of Rothman v. Rothman.
Before we begin, Nancy Rothman would like to say that she really hates this sort of thing, this mud-slinging as she calls it. "They are attacking me, and it's something I just can't allow. And in the end, right will rule out," she told the UTW recently.
She also said other media outlets have not reported the truth about her legal woes.
This kind of attack only makes her want to forge ahead, she said.
To add another layer of complexity to this case, there's a document that shows an unexpected connection between Rothman and one of her opponents for the District 2 seat, Judith Adams.
A court document from May 8, 2001, showed Adams was served with a subpoena to testify and to "bring her files relevant to the parties and the minor children." The document states that "Dr. Adams performed counseling for the Defendant, Nancy Rothman."
Patient and therapist are pitted against one another in a race for District 2.
The Rothmans married in October 1988, and they had two sons named Jason and Jeffrey (now grown), bought a million-dollar house together and founded a successful mediation business, Oklahoma Mediation and Arbitration Services.
But in 1998, John Rothman filed for divorce. On September 10, 1999, the couple was granted a divorce.
In the divorce agreement, Nancy maintained full custody of the two boys. She also got the pricey house on Zunis Ave. (apparently paid off according to paperwork on the Rothmans' home), full medical coverage for herself and her sons, the boys' tuition at Monte Cassino, and a $227,600 alimony settlement.
Plus the Lexus. In all, her total award added up to more than $1.3 million.
The divorce was officially granted on Sept. 10, 1999. But the paperwork and the drama didn't end there.
Soon after the Rothmans hammered out an agreement, Nancy began denying visitation. The legal records noted she was afraid for the well-being of her children, though none of her claims were substantiated in court.
Contempt of court requests poured in from John's lawyer. On date after date (primarily April and September 2000), Nancy refused John visitation with his children.
Nancy was found guilty of contempt citations, which included seven dates where she didn't allow John to see the children, though these were later dismissed as moot.
In November 2000, the court responded to John Rothman's application for an emergency order by reviewing affidavits by a Dr. Eugene Reynolds, Tulsa Police detective Chris Witt and Chuck McGowen, a parenting coordinator.
All three affidavits contain shocking findings against Nancy. McGowen said he thought that she had her children "engaged in a deliberate, planned course of brainwashing," which he said was "the worst case of parental alienation that I have ever been involved with over my 17 years of practice."
The court ordered the boys be immediately transferred into their father's custody, and their mother given only supervised visits.
Parenting coordinators William Berman and Chuck McGowen continued to update Judge Hass on what the coordinators perceived Nancy's latest schemes to get John on the hook for sexual molestation.
In Feb. 2002, Berman wrote Hass to say that another "new" unsubstantiated sexual abuse claim had cropped up, and that the Department of Human Services recommended "Mrs. Rothman needs a psychological examination to assess therapy and to realize how she is hurting her sons."
There is no document indicating that Rothman underwent this examination.
On the financial front, sizable credit card debt and a tax lien had her borrowing against the high value of the paid-off family home (hat-tip to local blogger and public records lover, Michael Bates).
In total, she re-mortgaged the upscale home on Zunis Ave. seven times between September 1999 and September 2004 for ever-larger sums. Foreclosure proceedings began after she had borrowed $900,000 from the home.
Online records about her 2006 bankruptcy show a woman upside-down in debt despite being awarded what many consider a pretty hefty nest egg.
In seven years, Rothman went from a generous $1.3 million divorce settlement to being on the hook for $112,000.
She told the Tulsa World that her financial troubles stemmed from the divorce.
Throughout the court records, one of Rothman's closest allies, psychic Diane (often spelled Diana or Deanna) Diaz, pops up over and over again.
Recently, Rothman told the Tulsa World about a "spiritual guide" she consults, who has helped her move forward. There is some evidence that this spiritual guide may still be Diaz, whose brochure for psychic services is included in court documents.
She may be the same psychic who was court-ordered to stay away from the Rothman boys during the divorce after concern that she and Rothman were successfully and painstakingly brainwashing the boys against their father.
She may be the same woman who was accused of involvement in plots to plant child pornography on John Rothman's computer and to ruin his relationship with his sons.
Meet Diane Diaz, who, according to court records, continued to communicate with the boys even after Judge Hass asked her to stay away from them. A photocopy of a typed letter from Diaz to the boys, wherein she described herself as a "strong woman" whom the court feared, is presented as evidence that Diaz violated these warnings.
Records show Diaz and Rothman had a very close relationship throughout the divorce.
In a four-page affirmation upholding John's custody of the children, Judge Hass wrote, "The evidence was amply presented that wife and her friend were actively engaged in a process of alienating the children from their father. It is unfortunate for the children that the process was successful."
The "friend" is Diaz.
In Nancy's bid to regain custody of her children via written argument, she struck down accusations by her husband that Diaz "controlled [her] every breath."
Nowadays, it appears that Diaz and Rothman may still be close. Voter registration records show that a Diane Diaz is registered to vote at an address on Zunis Ave., the very same address as the home Rothman lost to foreclosure in 2006.
The two are both listed as top officials in Neighbor For Neighbor, a non-profit organization. Rothman is the director of the legal clinic while Diaz is listed as operations director.
And then there are Rothman's statements to the Tulsa World about her local "spiritual guide," who's helped her move on after the divorce.
UTW attempted to locate Diaz, even leaving a note on her doorstep (at what appears to be her actual residence in Jenks, according to county assessor records). No requests for an interview were returned.
In the court document that began circulating around 2009 when Rothman sought higher office, a judge said the last straw "was when wife and her friend "hired" a man to spy on husband, to find a female who would attach herself romantically to husband, receive a key to his condo and plant child pornography there."
In this scheme, Rothman and Diaz "hired" a man named Jim Reed, yet another strange character in this strange tale. Reed testified in court that he agreed to help "as a favor" but "after he realized the criminal intent of the plan, he tape-recorded the next conversation," court records state.
The tape was given to John Rothman, who with his lawyer escorted the tape to Tulsa Police.
In her written argument, Nancy accused Reed of being "the centerpiece in this farce," who falsely presented himself to her and Diaz as a former FBI agent who had "killed five people."
Nancy defended herself, stating that hiring Reed to find a woman who would attach herself to her ex-husband was "perfectly legal."
Nancy accused John of "creating chaos for high stakes," a behavior consistent with borderline personality disorder, court records show.
However, after reading through four volumes of schemes and hysteria, one must wonder who exactly created this chaos.
In a 2009 rebuttal, Rothman defended herself, stating, "In legal situations, particularly when a parent believes her children to be in harm's way, you will often see a domino effect of occurrences in the legal records. Such was the situation in this case."
Rothman is a former president of the Tulsa Republican Women's Club and is on the board of Domestic Violence Intervention Services. She unsuccessfully ran for a State Senate seat.
Rothman told UTW recently that her strength is her "ability to communicate and be nice" and that she is "very passionate" about not allowing "personality and agenda to go ahead of what really matters."
She wants to bring her message of unity to city council, she said, in spite of the mud-slinging because she sees a city suffering. "So that's why I'm in this and win or lose, I will continue to make this statement," she said.
As for her divorce, she told UTW the legal battle was a "horrendous thing," and that she thinks "he's probably very scared," in reference to her ex-husband.
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