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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The rules say that even a ‘sociopath’ can be a landlord

There we were, playing a Thanksgiving weekend game of Monopoly, when the question came up.

Can you collect rent when you’re in jail?

Some of us were certain the answer was no. Especially those of us who had landed on the property whose landlord had gone directly to jail. But a quick consultation of the rules revealed: “Even though you are in Jail, you may buy and sell property, buy and sell houses and hotels and collect rents.”

Maybe we should call it the Jordin rule – after Arlin Jordin, among the creepiest, most predatory of rapists, who is still collecting rents and evicting tenants from his $1 million worth of properties around Spokane while serving a nine-year prison sentence. A story in last weekend’s Spokesman-Review detailed the sorry state of Jordin’s extensive rental properties, from the miseries of his tenants to the Fire Department’s decision to shut down one of his buildings.

Jordin’s slumlording is not some sensational irrelevancy. Judging by the complaints of tenants and the many women who accused him of drugging and raping them, his financial and sexual predation was of a piece – calculated methods of taking advantage of vulnerable people. Jordin was convicted of a single count of rape in 2006; but as the news of his arrest emerged, a wave of women came forward to complain that Jordin had drugged and raped or attempted to rape them. Like the allegations that have emerged against Bill Cosby, these followed a template that suggests very strongly the mind of a calculated, repeat offender accustomed to getting away with it.

Jordin – identified in a 1991 magazine article as one of Spokane’s most eligible bachelors – targeted vulnerable women and invited them to his apartment, prosecutors said. Some were his tenants, some were apartment-seekers. Time after time, women told similar stories: Having a drink with Jordin – who often greeted them wearing a bathrobe – and blacking out, then waking up in his bed or being raped. Police later found benzodiazepine, the drug used in date-rape drugs known as “roofies,” in his apartment.

More than 50 women came forward to police and the S-R after the news of Jordin’s arrest. Many said Jordin had raped them or tried to; others reported different kinds of strange behavior. Though further charges were not filed, prosecutors put five women on the stand in the Jordin trial to establish a pattern of behavior.

Jordin was found guilty. It’s worth recalling that all of this was considered, at the time, not serious enough to keep Jordin locked up while he pursued an appeal. A judge left him free on a $100,000 bond. It was only after yet another woman came forward during his release and accused Jordin of doing it again that a judge ordered him back behind bars. The appeals court eventually rejected Jordin’s claim that the five other victims should not have been allowed to testify.

“Each of the women who testified at trial met Mr. Jordin at his apartment, each was served a drink that affected her in a way that was different than she had previously experienced, and each woman woke up to find she had an unwanted sexual encounter with Mr. Jordin. Based on these similarities the trial court did not abuse its discretion,” the appeals court said.

Lots of people found it scandalous that Jordin was left free after his conviction, partly because it would be hard to imagine a similar circumstance for a different kind of convict. A poorer one, say. One of Jordin’s tenants, say. Surely the fact that he was a local businessman, an owner of apartments, conferred upon him a certain degree of deferral and respect, even in the face of a rape conviction and credible claims from a whole bunch of women.

A former Jordin tenant wrote an anonymous blog post in 2007 about her experiences with him, titled “A Tale of My Old Landlord, the Convicted Rapist.” She raised the class dynamic inherent in Jordin’s rental empire and his criminal activity.

“Only a rich man would be walking the streets after a conviction like that,” she wrote.  “He likes to drug and rape young women in his fancy South Hill apartment. … He has made his money renting out the crappiest apartments in Spokane to the poorest of the poor.”

The crappiness of Jordin’s apartments isn’t in much dispute. The Fire Department shut down his building at 1311 W. Ninth Ave. in November, leaving his tenants without a place to live. Tenants complain about unfixed pipes and unheated apartments, and many have limited recourse or other options for places to live. One former property manager who worked for Jordin described him as “very unknowledgeable” about running rental properties. Another called him “super-duper arrogant.” One of his victims called him a “sociopath.”

Meanwhile, scores of people in Spokane continue to call him landlord.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or shawnv@spokesman.com. Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.
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