Douche of the Week: The Woman Who Evicted Her Father
By Ghengis Ron
“I laid awake at night trying to figure out what in the world I could have done to these people to make them so angry at me.”
– John “Jack” Potter
If you owned a house that was occupied by a 91-year-old man trying to live out his last years in peace, would you evict him?
What if the man had built the house himself 56 years ago and had raised his family in it?
What if the man was a veteran who had served his country proudly in World War II and who had seen combat in the Aleutian Islands?
What if the man had worked hard his whole life, having retired from the B&O railroad as a chief train dispatcher and having once served as a sheriff and as a mayor of Zaleski, Ohio?
What if you had taken the house from the man unethically, but were allowed to keep it on a judicial technicality?
What if the man was your own father?
If you answered yes to even one of those questions, you’re what scientists refer to as a “dirtbag.” But as unbelievable as it sounds, an Ohio woman answered yes to every single one.
In February, Janice Cottrill served her father, John “Jack” Potter, an eviction notice stating that she was terminating his “existing lease.” I like to imagine that she did so immediately after kicking a puppy dog and immediately before slapping a kid’s ice cream cone out of his hand, because you have to have a black heart to pull some shit like that.
Cottrill’s attorney told AOL News that this was “a simple eviction process for someone who doesn’t own the home and doesn’t pay any rent,” which in my lawyer-to-human dictionary translates to “fuck you.”
Potter has been ordered to attend an eviction hearing on June 12, at which time he is expected to be evicted.
The situation began in 2004, when Potter and his wife (who has since passed away) became ill. They gave Cottrill, their only daughter, general power of attorney to take care of their affairs in the event that they declined in health. One of their concerns was that they wanted Cottrill to take care of their son (now 64 years old) who is autistic and severely disabled.
Cottrill used this power of attorney for good.
Just kidding. She used it to sign the house over to herself. In 2010, when Potter discovered what his daughter had done—you’re not allowed to do that, since you can’t gift yourself property over which you have power of attorney— he took her to court and won. The decision was overturned in appellate court, however, because the statute of limitations of four years had expired. Cottrill was able to keep the house, thereby shattering any of our remaining faith in the justice system, common sense, or basic human decency.
But before you go losing hope in people altogether, let me introduce another character: Jaclyn Fraley. Fraley is Potter’s 35-year-old granddaughter and Cottrill’s daughter. She moved to Columbus, Ohio from San Diego to be closer to her aging grandfather, and if you know anything at all about Columbus and San Diego, then you already know this woman is a saint.
And Fraley has also been her grandfather’s biggest ally throughout this whole ordeal. She started a campaign on gofundme.com to save her grandfather’s house. As of Thursday morning, she has raised her goal amount of $125,000, which will be used to purchase the house. If all goes according to script, Potter will be able to stay in his home for the rest of his life.
I recognize that there are two sides to every story, and Cottrill’s husband hinted that this whole feud has been fueled by something to do with Potter wanting to stay in contact with his autistic son, who is being cared for by Cottrill and her husband. (Don’t ask me why that’s a bad thing. I’ve never heard anyone convincingly argue, “Yeah, I know it looks bad, but you don’t understand—he wants to see his son.”)
But it’s hard to find any defense at all for a woman who would take a home from her father, get away with it on a technicality, and then evict him.
A big part of me doesn’t want Cottrill to get a single cent of the money Fraley raised, because it feels like she’s being rewarded for being awful. But maybe it’s better to take Fraley’s attitude with this whole thing, as reflected by her comments to ABC News:
“Do I think she deserves the money? No, but my grandfather deserves to stay in his home as long as he possibly can. If he wants to leave, it should be his decision.”
So let’s celebrate this as a story with a happy ending (if Potter is indeed allowed to purchase his own home back).
Because once again good people—Fraley and the over 4,000 people who donated to Potter’s cause—have proven that they outnumber the bad.
Editor’s Update: Despite the fact that online supporters (i.e. people like you) raised a whopping $138,000 to help John Potter keep his house, his daughter is STILL going to evict him. The douchebaggery runs strong in this one, apparently, as it does in those who posses no soul.