Tulsa County clerk's choice for chief deputy comes with a messy past
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Friday, December 28, 2012
12/28/12 at 7:39 AM
Nancy Rothman, a lawyer and former Tulsa City Council candidate who was embroiled in a messy legal dispute a decade ago, has been hired by Tulsa County Clerk-Elect Pat Key as her chief deputy.
Rothman will begin work Wednesday - the same day Key is to be sworn into office. Rothman will be paid $90,000 a year.
According to a 2003 appeals court ruling, Rothman tried to set up her ex-husband with child pornography and falsely accused him of sexually abusing one of their children in a custody battle related to their 1998 divorce.
Rothman's actions were outlined in a state Court of Civil Appeals opinion affirming a Tulsa County judge's decision to give custody of the couple's children to John Rothman.
Tulsa County Clerk-Elect Pat Key:
Nancy Rothman, 55, said Thursday that the public court records do not tell the entire story.
She said Nancy Rothman's previous legal trouble was not a factor in whether to hire her as chief deputy. "I want someone I think has a good work ethic and will do a good job and somebody I could work with," she said.
"There are sealed records that show a very different story - a very different story," said Rothman, who would not elaborate.
Key said she hired Rothman, whom she has known for years, because she thinks she will do a good job.
"I want someone I think has a good work ethic and will do a good job and somebody I could work with, because with this job, you work a lot with your first deputy," she said.
The appeals court opinion states that ample evidence was presented that Rothman was "actively engaged in a process of alienating the children from their father."
The evidence included unfounded accusations that her husband sexually abused their younger child, the court said.
"The last straw was when wife and her friend 'hired' a man to spy on husband and to find a female who would attach herself romantically to husband, receive a key to his condo, and plant child pornography there," an appeals court judge wrote.
After realizing "the criminal intent of the plan," the man tape-recorded his next conversation with Nancy Rothman and turned it over to her husband, who passed it on to the Tulsa Police Department, according to the opinion.
Despite court warnings, Rothman also continuously denied her husband visitation with the children and tried to harm her husband's reputation with the false accusations, court documents state.
She was required to pay $70,099 of her ex-husband's court costs.
Rothman's conduct was found to be "reprehensible in a parent" and "endangered the mental welfare of the children," the court said.
In 2008, Rothman pleaded guilty to a contempt citation for failure to pay court-ordered child support over a seven-year period and received a six-month jail sentence, a $500 fine and the loss of all her state-issued licenses.
The sentence was suspended as long as she complied with the court-ordered payment schedule for back child support.
Rothman has said previously that she never lost her licenses.
During her unsuccessful campaign for City Council last year, Rothman told the Tulsa World that the financial problems she has experienced - including her 2006 bankruptcy, the 2005 foreclosure on her home and a 2001 tax lien that was later released - were related to the divorce.
Key said Rothman's previous legal trouble was not a factor in deciding whether to hire her.
"I can just say none of that story was a factor in any way because I realize that was not the whole story," she said.
Key said Rothman will run the County Clerk's Office, including hiring employees and working closely with Key.
Rothman is qualified because she is familiar with the clerk's duties and has management experience as director of the Neighbor for Neighbor legal clinic for the past several years, Key said.
Original Print Headline: Clerk hire revives messy past
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Nancy Rothman: She refused to elaborate on her past legal troubles but said there are "sealed records that show a very different story."