A Forest Lakes woman who pleaded guilty to child cruelty in May for neglecting more than a dozen kids at an unlicensed daycare will serve two years in jail.
“I would like to publicly apologize to all the parents,” said a tearful Kathy Yowell-Rohm, before a judge pronounced her sentence September 7 in Albemarle Circuit Court. “Please know that I have always, always loved your children.”
When police were called to her home last December, they found approximately 16 infants and toddlers, some strapped in urine-soaked chairs and swings, and almost all of them with dirty diapers.
About 10 parents of the children Yowell-Rohm cared for were present in the courtroom, and prosecutor Darby Lowe said one of them wrote in a victim impact statement that learning what happened at that daycare was “one of the hardest days of [their] life.”
Friends and family of Yowell-Rohm, who wore a gray blazer and her blonde hair wound tightly in a bun, also packed the courthouse. Her sister, Kimberly Maynard, spoke about the “fabulous” marriage, “model family,” and “nice home” the defendant once had.
“People were begging for her to watch their children because she had such a stellar reputation,” Maynard said.
But she learned of her sister’s secret struggle with alcohol and other substances after Yowell-Rohm’s recent separation from her husband.
“She, in my view, was a social drinker,” said Maynard. “I know differently now.”
After what Maynard called “the football incident,” when Yowell-Rohm assaulted an EMT who was tending to a patient in critical care at the November 2017 UVA vs. Virginia Tech game at Scott Stadium and tried to get into the ambulance with the patient, Maynard said, “that was so crazily uncharacteristic of any rational person, we knew it had to be more than just alcohol.”
Yowell-Rohm has since worked her way through every treatment program at the local jail and received treatment at the Farley Center in Williamsburg, according to her attorney, Rhonda Quagliana.
Quagliana argued that felony convictions in the “very public” trial were punishment enough. Judge Humes Franklin sentenced Yowell-Rohm to five years with four suspended for felony cruelty or injury to a child, three years with two suspended for assaulting the EMT, and 12 months with all suspended for operating her home daycare without a license.