Jump to content

Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells their home


Recommended Posts

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place--wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

 

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold's care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

 

Ignoring Clay's significant role in Harold's life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold's "roommate." The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold's bank accounts to pay for his care.

 

What happened next is even more chilling.

 

Without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold's possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

 

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county's actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

 

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

 

Read more about NCLR's Elder Law Project.

 

Are you disturbed by the story of how Clay Greene was treated by the County? Please post this, pass it on, do whatever you can to help raise the visibility of what happened to Clay.

 

Also, please write a letter to the local paper, the Press Democrat (owned by The New York Times) asking them to do some investigative reporting on the Greene v. County of Sonoma case. So far they have ignored the story.

 

Send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com. Include the story and a link to this post.

 

Source

 

Someone posted this petition to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat asking them to publish the story.

 

Meet Harold and Clay

Edited by pitchan
Link to comment

well... this is really outrageous... does anyone have any other info that would confirm this? I'd like to have it confirmed twice before jumping to any conclusions but that something like that can happen in "gay-friendly" California... well that's pretty disturbing (and it really adds other things to take care of (or be afraid of) considering the gay relationship/living as a couple).

Link to comment

well... this is really outrageous... does anyone have any other info that would confirm this? I'd like to have it confirmed twice before jumping to any conclusions but that something like that can happen in "gay-friendly" California... well that's pretty disturbing (and it really adds other things to take care of (or be afraid of) considering the gay relationship/living as a couple).

 

Ah. I repaired the link to the 'source'.

 

I'm pretty sure this is real, but then again...can't be 100% sure. :(

Link to comment

I am always a skeptic on things I read on the Internet because I get sent stupid, outrageous claims left and and right everyday so I Googled the case, Greene v. County of Sonoma et al and almost every link took me to stories based on the NCLR Elder Law Project. I found the story surprising since I know Sonoma State had one of the first GLBT campus groups in CA, Santa Rosa has a very active and vibrant gay community.

 

Then I found this post on Democratic Underground that expresses my skepticism better than I can articulate it.

 

"It's a REALLY infuriating story, but...

 

I'm always mystified when I see

Results 1 - 10 of about 93,000 for Greene v. County of Sonoma

for something like this, and can't find anything pointing to any story on any news site, & all the references end up pointing back to one source.

 

I just don't like it when there's

1) a VERY infuriating story,

2) no dates on when any of this happened, no details, WHAT hospital? WHAT nursing home? WHAT judge? What was Harold's last name?

3) The story has things like "the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will" without saying HOW they did that... I mean what, just because they're EVIL?

4), like I said, every reference I can find to the story points back to one source.

My first reaction is to be ANGRY, OUTRAGED, but that little voice is saying "wait a minute... check the facts." and I can't FIND any.

 

All I can find is the Kate Kendell story.

Does ANYONE have any additional info on this story?"

 

That is kind of how I felt. It is outrageous if the facts are exactly as the NCLR Elder Law Project lays out the facts and being one of them anti-big-gubmint types nothing surprises me when I read stories about government doing bad, stupid, outrageous things. but I would at least like to see facts from another, independent source before I sharpen my pitch fork and get a torch.

 

If the facts are proved to be exactly true, I hope to see you all at the next tea party :2thumbs: because the story is outrageous.

Link to comment

I am always a skeptic on things I read on the Internet because I get sent stupid, outrageous claims left and and right everyday so I Googled the case, Greene v. County of Sonoma et al and almost every link took me to stories based on the NCLR Elder Law Project. I found the story surprising since I know Sonoma State had one of the first GLBT campus groups in CA, Santa Rosa has a very active and vibrant gay community.

 

Then I found this post on Democratic Underground that expresses my skepticism better than I can articulate it.

 

"It's a REALLY infuriating story, but...

 

I'm always mystified when I see

Results 1 - 10 of about 93,000 for Greene v. County of Sonoma

for something like this, and can't find anything pointing to any story on any news site, & all the references end up pointing back to one source.

 

I just don't like it when there's

1) a VERY infuriating story,

2) no dates on when any of this happened, no details, WHAT hospital? WHAT nursing home? WHAT judge? What was Harold's last name?

3) The story has things like "the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will" without saying HOW they did that... I mean what, just because they're EVIL?

4), like I said, every reference I can find to the story points back to one source.

My first reaction is to be ANGRY, OUTRAGED, but that little voice is saying "wait a minute... check the facts." and I can't FIND any.

 

All I can find is the Kate Kendell story.

Does ANYONE have any additional info on this story?"

 

That is kind of how I felt. It is outrageous if the facts are exactly as the NCLR Elder Law Project lays out the facts and being one of them anti-big-gubmint types nothing surprises me when I read stories about government doing bad, stupid, outrageous things. but I would at least like to see facts from another, independent source before I sharpen my pitch fork and get a torch.

 

If the facts are proved to be exactly true, I hope to see you all at the next tea party thumbsupsmileyanim.gif because the story is outrageous.

 

 

Hmm. Now that I think about it, I also googled it but nothing else turned up. Now am not sure if it's true or not, but I just thought I'd post it anyways.

Link to comment

blog in nytimes about this story

 

It's a blog but since it is in the nytimes website, there is probably some bit of credibility to it.

 

It offers some additional details. It says Harold Scull fell and was hospitalized in April 2008 and died a few months later in August. It also mentions that Mr. Greene had some mental health issues which the county used as the reason for his placement in a nursing home.

 

Here's a link from the NCLR website which shows you a 78 page pdf of the complaint.

Edited by tjajcj
Link to comment

I don't doubt the story.

 

I've seen what happens in nursing home situations when there is an estranged family, money and a set of policies created to isolate the victim.

 

:(...........I agree, I've heard what the next county over from us did to an elderly woman and kept the family from seeing her. The story reprinted in the NY paper adds credibility to it.

Link to comment

Some more information. Seems that despite a 25 year relationship and 20 years of living together they never registered as domestic partners. Maybe the tragic, lonely end of Harold could have been avoided.

 

Other than that the rest of the story sounds worthy of a tragic GA story...... from the linked story:

 

"At the time of Harold's fall he had already been experiencing some degree of mental impairment, and had been drinking. He fell down the stairs and became angry when Clay wanted to call an ambulance because he was afraid of what the result might be. (And as it turned out, he had good reason to be.) The paramedics who arrived on the scene suspected the possibility of abuse. But that suspicion was false. What happened over the next two months is when the nightmare truly began. Once Harold was released from the hospital to a nursing home, the county refused to tell Clay where Harold had been placed, forced Clay into a nursing home where he did not need to be, auctioned all of his possessions, including treasured and valuable works of art and family memorabilia, and took away his two beloved cats."

 

Dementia plus alcohol is a bad combo and led to a faulty conclusion by paramedics and probably the investigating county officer and then bureaucracy took over.

 

http://www.bilerico.com/2010/04/meet_harold_greene_and_clay_scull.php

Link to comment
  • Site Administrator

A followup report from the NY Times blog has the lawyer for the defendants claiming that it was initially presented as a domestic violence issue, and that's why they were separated.

 

As this is now before the courts, I'm happy to let them sort out the truth from the spin.

Link to comment

On a side note, there are similar cases where things like this have happened:

 

Back in the late '90s, there was a senior lady (I think she was 84 at the time) in Yucaipa, California, who had outlived all her relatives and, for some reason, found her bank accounts restricted from her own use. When she inquired to the bank, she was told she no longer had control of them. (??) Shortly thereafter someone sold her car, which she reported stolen, but it was never recovered, and it was discovered that someone had sold it who had also sought legal custody of the woman in order to take over her retirement funds, explaining the control issue on the bank accounts. The woman did not know the person that had taken control of her accounts and her life, and the bank officer helped her find an attorney to deal with the issue. She was no longer able to go out and play bridge four times a week as she used to. This situation was further exacerbated when the woman found that she had to rely on senior shuttle transportation to get around town (not easy in Yucaipa--retail centers are a bit spread out and up and down Yucaipa Blvd, a sloping street and California St. near the Blvd.) The senior shuttle could only pick her up three times a week and not on the weekends.

 

They found the woman who did this to her, and the San Bernardino County DA filed several charges, all felonies. The woman who did this should still be in prison--the old lady is probably dead by now.

 

Some advice from this: If your mailbox is on a post make sure you check it right after it is delivered, otherwise, make sure your mail is dropped inside your house, or into a locked mailbox.

 

The old lady could have taken note of these problems but apparently the younger lady who usurped control had been checking her openly accessible mailbox before the old lady did, and was forging her signatures on documents and intercepting "Notice of Change" letters from her bank, which is how this happened.

 

Sometimes it's not the county--sometimes it's someone out there that is just purely evil.

Link to comment

Now when there is more evidence it really happened that way, it really makes me sad that even if you have everything arranged according to the laws, the state/county can deal with you as if nothing of that really mattered. Their happily ever after was destroyed by a whim of an officer or two...

Link to comment

Now when there is more evidence it really happened that way, it really makes me sad that even if you have everything arranged according to the laws, the state/county can deal with you as if nothing of that really mattered. Their happily ever after was destroyed by a whim of an officer or two...

 

Mmmm, the story isn't quite what was presented initially, which was one old guys slips and falls goes to hospital depite power of attorney one partner is denied access to the other.

 

One key is they didn't have everything arranged according to the laws, they didn't register as domestic partners, that could have made a difference and one partner didn't just slip and fall, he had been drinking, slipped and fell and was fighting his partner when paramedics arrived so it looked like it was an abuse situation to the paramedics and probably the first police on the scene if they were called and then to the county mental health people and the dementia of the one partner may have prevented him from articulating the situation.

 

The story seems more about bureaucratic incompetence than malicious intent. I do hope the county gets nailed in court for their incompetence, but i think the truth is more complicated than the NCLR's original press blast made things appear, but it served its purpose, it got people riled up.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..