Bad babysitter: Forest Lakes daycare operator pleads guilty

Kathy Yowell Rohm. Courtesy Albemarle County Police Kathy Yowell Rohm. Courtesy Albemarle County Police

Kathy Yowell-Rohm spoke softly as she pleaded guilty May 7 to felony cruelty or injury to a child and operating a home daycare without a license after police found 16 children at her Forest Lakes residence last December.

One adult is allowed to care for a maximum of four children at a daycare, according to state code.

Aside from a four-year-old boy, who was the oldest child in the house, each baby and toddler’s diaper was dirty—some so wet and bulging that urine had soaked through their diapers, clothes and the padding of the seats they were confined to, according to prosecutor Darby Lowe.

Representatives from Child Protective Services and the Albemarle County Police Department searched the house on Turnberry Circle on December 6, after Rohm initially denied their entry two days earlier. Even from outside of the house, they could hear babies crying, according to previous testimony.

Inside, several infants were kept in swings and carseats in a dark room, seemingly without food or water, Lowe said.

“The smell was quite awful, of urine and feces,” said CPS investigator Alyssa Westenberger in a January preliminary hearing.

The 54 year old, who wore a red jail jumpsuit and had her hair piled in a neat blonde bun on the top of her head in Albemarle County Circuit Court, also pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency medical service provider in a parking lot at the November 24 UVA and Virginia Tech football game.

Lowe said Yowell-Rohm witnessed the EMT responding to a woman who had fallen down. Yowell-Rohm became upset and began acting like a “family member or loved one” of the injured person, whom she’d apparently never met.

She was also written up for public swearing or intoxication, a charge that the prosecutor dropped in exchange for her guilty plea to the assault.

The prosecutor said Yowell-Rohm continued to interfere with the EMT and patient, holding onto the ambulance as it began to pull away. When the emergency worker stopped tending to the injured person to remove Yowell-Rohm, she allegedly knocked him to the ground.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 7.