A woman who was once engaged to Robert Dean McGlothern Jr. told a Whatcom County Superior Court judge Friday that she endured the worst of a series of his regular beatings just three weeks before their planned wedding in 2013.
The woman said McGlothern told her to quit crying and that she “could handle it” at the time. She said she imagined herself leaving his house in body bag, toes first, and it’s an image she still can’t shake.
Then she spoke directly to McGlothern, 32, who pleaded guilty last week in two separate cases to two counts of attempted second-degree manslaughter and five counts of second-degree assault for beating four women, including one who he kept in his room for two days while he assaulted her with a metal bat.
“Rob, I can forgive and I’ll never forget. I truly hope that you’re finally taking responsibility for your actions and pray you get the help you need,” the woman said. “But I have only one question for you – what are you running from?”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
“I believe that Rob needs real help,” the woman added. “I also believe he needs to be accountable for his actions to each and every one of us.”
Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis sentenced McGlothern, of Bellingham, to 16 years in prison, a sentence above the standard range for his crimes. Once released, he will be on probation for a year and a half. No-contact orders are in place for all the women.
A second woman, whom McGlothern held captive and beat in October 2015, explained by phone the long-term effects on her physically, mentally and emotionally. The woman explained the kidney damage, the fractured ribs, the post-traumatic stress disorder, the counseling and the recurring nightmares she has suffered.
“It’s more mental damage than anything,” the woman said through tears. “It’s going to affect me the rest of my life. I have had PTSD dreams for a very long time, and I’ve had counseling that’s helped, but I know I want further counseling.”
McGlothern gave a 30-second statement, saying he intends to seek mental health and substance abuse treatment while in prison. He did not apologize or acknowledge the women, their statements or the two victims who weren’t present in the courtroom.
Montoya-Lewis admonished McGlothern, saying the women’s ability to not only cooperate throughout the lengthy court process, but to come forward to speak and work through recovery efforts was heroic.
“What both (victim No. 1) and (victim No. 3) demonstrated to me today, your ability to speak to the court, shows incredible fortitude and strength and resilience – that is something that the actions of Mr. McGlothern can never take away from you,” Montoya-Lewis said. “No one can tell you ... what’s right or wrong. Your recovery is yours alone and I want you both to be compassionate with yourselves as you move through the process of recovery.
“Your recovery is your opportunity to take your power back that Mr. McGlothern attempted to take away from you and failed to do.”
Your willingness to put hands around the necks of individual people that you (said) you loved, and willing to harbor those individuals in a way they thought they might die, that is well and truly beyond mental health issues.
Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis
Turning to McGlothern, Montoya-Lewis encouraged him to take responsibility for his behavior.
“People are complex and that I certainly wouldn’t want to be judged by my worst actions on my worst day. That said, your behavior was not a one-time deal. This was a pattern of behavior, a pattern of controlling women, a pattern of beating women, a pattern of threatening their lives, a pattern in acting in such a manner that they believed they might die at your hands. That kind of terror is something I hope you never experience, however it is something you have put multiple people through,” Montoya-Lewis said.
She also noted McGlothern’s past use of methamphetamine.
“When people combine mental health issues with methamphetamine it is a tremendously toxic combination, and that may be an explanation partially for this behavior, but you cannot go into prison believing that is the explanation,” Montoya-Lewis said. “Your willingness to put hands around the necks of individual people that you (said) you loved, and willing to harbor those individuals in a way they thought they might die, that is well and truly beyond mental health issues.”
“I can’t speak to your humanity today Mr. McGlothern, but when I read the probable cause statements and when I hear from these women what you did to them, it’s a struggle for me to find it in me. It is my hope that when you come out of prison, you can demonstrate there’s a person there that has compassion for others,” she added.
McGlothern’s charges were amended to a more severe offense, but included fewer counts. Public Defender Darrin Hall, who assisted with McGlothern’s case, said the deal was the result of two and a half years of negotiations.
In his guilty pleas, McGlothern wrote that he agrees there was sufficient evidence to find him guilty of all the charges included in the previous charging documents, court records show. McGlothern’s trial had been scheduled to begin Jan. 8.
On Oct. 22, 2015, Victim No. 1 called 911 to report McGlothern had assaulted her with a baseball bat over the last day and a half. McGlothern had asked the woman to help him round up some loose chickens, and she agreed to go to his home at 2091 E. Smith Road. McGlothern then assaulted the woman with a long, metal bat and kept her in a converted meat locker that he used as a bedroom, according to court records. He also threatened her with a firearm.
During that time, the woman’s grandmother came looking for her. On Oct. 22, McGlothern passed out on his bed and the woman was able to escape. She had multiple bruises and welts on her head, face, arms and legs, and her left eye was nearly swollen shut when Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies contacted her.
Detectives and SWAT personnel went to McGlothern’s house to get him to surrender, but after seven hours, SWAT officers forced their way into the residence. They found McGlothern hiding in the converted meat locker bedroom. Two firearms were also found.
After McGlothern’s arrest, a second woman contacted victim No. 1’s grandmother and said McGlothern also had assaulted her with a bat, according to court records. Victim No. 2 said she didn’t report the incident to law enforcement at the time, but was now willing to speak about it.
The woman had photographs of the bruises caused by McGlothern, the records show. The woman told investigators she and McGlothern briefly dated, and in July 2015, McGlothern became upset during sex and threw her out the front door, naked, according to charging documents. He then grabbed the woman by her hair, pulled her into the house and assaulted her, records show. McGlothern also choked the woman and threatened to kill her.
Two years earlier, in November 2013, sheriff’s deputies were called to McGlothern’s home on Smith Road for a domestic violence incident. Victim No. 3 said that during an argument with McGlothern, he choked her and punched her in the face, torso and back. He also kicked her in the legs. McGlothern threatened to kill her.
Charges were filed in the case, but the victim later recanted her statement and the charges were dismissed. In November 2015, she told prosecutors she was using drugs at the time she recanted and was pressured by McGlothern and her friends to change her story, the records show.
In November 2015, a fourth victim came to the prosecutor’s office. The woman reported she was assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, identified as McGlothern. The woman said she suffered a broken nose from the assault that required two surgeries in April 2015, court records show. She said this wasn’t the first time McGlothern had assaulted her.
A records check revealed the fourth victim had reported an incident in July 2015 where McGlothern was arrested for assaulting her and interfering with the reporting of domestic violence.
McGlothern has a history of assaulting other women as well, including his then-pregnant sister who filed for a protection order, according to court records.
Robert Dean McGlothern Jr. was arrested Oct. 23, 2015. He has been in the Whatcom County Jail since that time, and is the longest residing current offender in the jail, according to jail records.
As of Jan. 11, Whatcom County has paid $81,986 for the cost of housing, clothing and feeding McGlothern. The costs also include the two trips McGlothern took to the law library when he briefly tried to defend himself in his cases without an attorney in early 2017.
The costs of housing McGlothern are covered by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office budget, according to Sheriff Bill Elfo. Now that McGlothern has been sentenced, the costs will become the responsibility of the state of Washington.