Torres untruthful in slander case documents, new court filings say

August 19, 2013
Dee Torres asks the San Luis Obispo City Council to approve more aggressive treatment of the homeless who do not enter case management.

Dee Torres asks the San Luis Obispo City Council to approve more aggressive treatment of the homeless who do not participate in CAPSLO programs.

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The slander suit filed by CAPSLO’s Homeless Services Director Dee Torres took a new turn when defendant Mike Brennler submitted a case document on Friday saying that Torres was not truthful in her sworn statement to the court.

Ralph Almirol, an ex-boyfriend of Torres who claims she has pilfered from the homeless, also swore that Torres’ own declaration included false statements.

Torres filed a slander suit against Brennler in March alleging that he slandered her in a telephone conversation with her former husband, Charles Barber. Brennler, a private investigator, was working with CalCoastNews as it investigated the treatment of the homeless in San Luis Obispo County.

In its series, “Keeping Them Homeless,” CalCoastNews has reported on ways in which homeless persons in the county have been victimized by the agencies that are supposed to serve them.

Torres has asserted in her suit that she is a “private person.” In libel and slander law, “private persons” have a much easier standard of proof to meet when suing. All libel and slander plaintiffs must prove that the defendant was at fault, that is to say the defendant was legally responsible for the harm they caused.

“Private persons” need only prove that the defendant was negligent in libeling or slandering them. “Public figures,” persons who have pervasive fame or notoriety or who are public officials, must meet a tougher standard of responsibility. A “public figure” must prove that the defendant libeled or slandered them either knowing that what they said was false or making the false statement with the knowledge that it probably was false.

It is difficult to prove actual knowledge of falsity or probable falsity in such cases. In her court filings, Torres said that she was not a public figure, either as a public official or because she is widely known.

In a declaration, which Torres signed on July 15, she states that she did not seek a position on the San Luis Obispo County Homeless Services Oversight Council.

“Exhibit 104 shows that I was appointed by the County to the Homeless Service Oversight Council,” Torres states in her declaration. “I did not campaign for or seek that position, and was required as part of my job to accept the appointment.”

Brennler responded with a declaration filed on Friday that states Torres “controverts” her own words by claiming she did not “campaign or seek” to be a member of HSOC.

“Exhibit A-1 is the publicly available copy of Dee Torres’s three-page application she used to apply for the Homeless Service Oversight Committee,” Brennler states in his filing. “I contend that it shows plaintiff did campaign and seek this public office.”

On December 8, 2012, Torres filed an application with the county for appointment to the Homeless Services Oversight Council (HSOC). The application is available on the county website as an attachment to a staff report for the January 29 SLO Board of Supervisors meeting in which Torres received her appointment to HSOC.

In the application, Torres stated that, if necessary, she would file a statement of disclosure as a public official.

“Should you be appointed, are you willing, if necessary for that particular body, to file a statement of disclosure as a public official under the standards set forth by the Fair Political Practice Commission,” the application asked.

Torres checked the “Yes” box following the question and was appointed.

A second way Torres runs the risk of being designated as a “public figure” is through fame or notoriety, especially in relation to her involvement with homeless issues.

Also as part of her application, Torres submitted a four-paragraph explanation of her qualifications for the position.

“I believe that my passion, knowledge and direct experience working with this population can provide a voice which is unique and beneficial to the Council,” Torres wrote in requesting the appointment to HSOC.

Torres also contends that she is not a public figure even though she is the media spokesperson for CAPSLO’s homeless services. About eight years ago, Torres ordered homeless services’ staffers to no longer speak with the media. Instead, all questions are to go through Torres.

“Although I do get inquiries from the media a few times a year, I do not have regular and ready access to the media,” Torres writes in her declaration.

However, Torres regularly appears on local news shows, radio stations and is often quoted in newspaper articles. Over the past year and a half, Torres has appeared on or has been quoted in at least 22 stories appearing in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, KCOY and KSBY. She also has appeared a number of times in stories published by CalCoastNews.

Torres’ status as either a “private person” or “public figure” is a matter to be decided by the judge.

Torres faces a significant hurdle in her slander suit later this week. Defense attorney Stew Jenkins filed an anti-SLAPP which will be heard by the judge on Thursday.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. It is the label applied to lawsuits filed against critics or opponents to prevent them from being involved in controversies. California, as well as many other states, have laws that allow the people being sued to go to court to have the SLAPP suit dismissed.

Brennler said at the time that Torres filed her suit, that it was an attempt to stop inquiries into practices being carried out by homeless service providers. In addition to the slander suit against Brennler, CAPSLO threatened to sue more than a dozen persons who provided CalCoastNews with information about wrongdoing at the nonprofit.

On Friday, CalCoastNews reported that Torres’s fiancé, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill, has tried to convince a key witness, Ralph Almirol, in the case to change his story about Torres’ use of gift cards donated for homeless.

Almirol also challenged the truthfulness of Torres’ statement in her slander suit.

“Her statement that ‘I have never taken a gift card donated to the CAPSLO (or any of its programs including the shelter) or any gift card intended for a homeless client’ is untrue,” Almirol wrote in his sworn statement.

 


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Slowerfaster

The argument that Torres does not have standing ( anti-SLAPP ) is rather flimsy. The judge should look at ALL aspects of the case, and the totality of Brennler’s statements…most of which have NOT been made public, and were suppressed by the filing of the anti-SLAPP defense, which stopped further discovery.


IF Brennler made statements about Torres that were not connected to her professional public behaviour, ( IOW, personal ), then the suit should continue.


Who will have egg on red faces, before this is over ?


MaryMalone

One thing for sure….we’re going to be treated to another Adam Hill hissy-fit display in the near future.


MaryMalone

OH, SNAP. Mike Brennler really brought it home to Torres.


In addition to the article’s points demonstrating she is a public person, Torres’ claim that she is not a “public person” is insultingly inane. The photo that accompanies this article of Torres speaking to the SLO City Council is proof. Does she really think anyone will believe that she spoke before the SLO City Council as a “private person”?


——————


QUOTING THE ARTICLE:


‘Exhibit A-1 is the publicly available copy of Dee Torres’s three-page application she used to apply for the Homeless Service Oversight Committee,’ Brennler states in his filing. ‘I contend that it shows plaintiff did campaign and seek this public office.‘ ”


… and …


…Also as part of her application, Torres submitted a four-paragraph explanation of her qualifications for the position….Torres regularly appears on local news shows, radio stations and is often quoted in newspaper articles…


… and …


“…she is the media spokesperson for CAPSLO’s homeless services. About eight years ago, Torres ordered homeless services’ staffers to no longer speak with the media. Instead, all questions are to go through Torres.”


————————-


Cindy

Just heard that Roy Ogden had a hearing with Judge LaBarbara this morning after filing a motion to extend the case and a second motion for additional discovery. Judge LaBarbara struck down both motions and the case will advance as scheduled on Thursday. Sounds like Torres isn’t so sure about her case anymore.


PaulJones

Mike hasn’t unloaded his entire hand as they had hoped that he would, he doesn’t have to in a slapp suit like this. More discovery?? Sounds like they want to depo Mike Brennler in an attempt to learn of everyone he contacted and what they said. Then they’ll attempt to intimidate those people too but it isn’t going to happen.


Regardless if this case is dismissed or if it goes to trial, Dee needs to find a way to shut people up and when you’re not sure who all talked, well LOL, LOL, LOL. Serves her right.


From Disneyland

Paula: Can’t shut them all up, can she now, when some live in different states and abroad, can she!! Serves her absolutely right!!! Lerking in the shadows of her doubt!!!!


Slowerfaster

A determining aspect for the anti-SLAPP provision to have any weight is whether Brennler did pass on information to various law enforcement agencies, as he has claimed.


Have any LE, DA, judicial authorities initiated any proceedings, based on this supposed information/claims ?


If not, why not ?


Is it possible that this could be an extra-legal ‘fishing expedition’…meant to intimidate and harass, and to stir up a misinformed rabble ?


MaryMalone

QUOTING PAUL JONES: “More discovery?? Sounds like they want to depo Mike Brennler in an attempt to learn of everyone he contacted and what they said. Then they’ll attempt to intimidate those people too but it isn’t going to happen.


—————


Do you mean “…they’ll attempt to intimidate those people” like Adam Hill attempted to intimidate Amirol into making false statements to clear Torres?


I cannot believe the courts are letting Hill get away with that.


MaryMalone

Good catch, Cindy. I agree with your interpretation.


jrstone

From what I’ve heard in these posts, and from the input of those that Dee Torres is suppose to be servicing as the Homeless Services Director of CAPSLO, there has been a complete loss of confidence in her ability to perform her duties. With this in mind I am asking her, Dee Torres, to take a non-paid leave of absence until this matter is resolved.


It should be clear to her, and to all of us, that the confidence she may have once had in doing her job is now gone and by continuing in her current position it only hurts the community and more importantly those that she is suppose to be servicing.


Also, if she is in fact confident that there is nothing to these allegations she should demand a full investigation by the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office to clear herself of any criminal conduct in this matter.


If there is nothing to hide and if there is nothing to these allegations then her non-paid leave of absence would allow CAPSLO to do its job without the distraction this has caused and a thorough criminal investigation would only put this matter to rest and clear her name once and for all.


What do all of you say?


Jeff Stone


MarkJames

Jeff, I’m glad that you’re posting here at CCN. You’re eloquence goes to show that homelessness can encompass all walks of life including the sober and the intellectual.


Since this pending case is about bringing light to the abuse of the down trodden and exposing the heartless witch that has taken you all hostage, perhaps you can round up a large number of oppressed shelter comrades to stand up and make an appearance in support of truth and justice at the Thursday hearing.


jrstone

MarkJames,


It wouldn’t happen, it just wouldn’t. In the minds of the vast majority that utilize the shelter and Prado they would expose themselves to hostility and down right retribution if they speak out or appear to support anyone coming against Ms Torres and/or CAPSLO.


My friend, a women close to 70 years of age, that I met at the shelter, someone who reminded me much of my Mother, was treated in such a manner just recently. She came forward to the shelter staff about a very aggressive service animal at the shelter and how the owner was not in control of the animal at all times as he should be. She used Boomer and I as an example of how an owner should have control of his service animal and how a service animal should act around others (non-aggressive). She was told it was none of her concern. Two nights later she was told she had to go to overflow, where most of the women go, as there was emergency bedding space needed at the shelter. When she asked why it was her and not any other of the women staying at the shelter being told to move she was told it was none of her business and to move or leave. She was in the much ballyhooed “Case Management Program” and in a priority bedding situation at the shelter (she had priority over any other client because of her participation in said program), only one other women was in that program at the shelter and there was three or four other women there at the shelter that were standard clients. None of them were asked to move. None were told to move or leave. The telling factor of this incident is that she was mixed in with the men at the shelter and not required to go to overflow because of her back problems and how those problems were exacerbated when she had to sleep on the army style cots provided at overflow. She was kicked out that night at 7PM with no transportation, bus or otherwise, with no resources, no place to go and no options provided by staff (From what I’ve been told her bed stayed vacant that night with no emergency situation ever arising). She was a member and successful participant of the Case Management Program and that meant absolutely nothing when it should have! She was a victim of retaliation by certain shelter staff for bringing the aggressive service animal to their attention more than once and then by using Boomer and I as an example as how a service animal owner relationship should be.


You can’t expect any of those who utilize these services to come forward, you can ask but you can’t expect it. This is how CAPSLO appears to operate without accountability. That and the absolute din that the apathetic cause in this community relegates us to almost untouchable status; without a voice or real place in this community.


I cannot be there or I would be. I am currently trying to better my own situation and am tied up for at least another week in the Pismo area and cannot get there.


There will come a time when I will be there, I promise.


Jeff Stone


karma2come

Jeff, about your friend following the rules and being active with a case manager and having a priority bed etc. What does her case manager do in these situations? Are they not supposed to work on behalf of the clients? Why would a case manager not step in to help? I would expect the case managers would be the ones to handle situations such as this one. Do case managers allow the shelter workers to put their people out? If case management is such a big part of having a priority bed, why would this behavior be tolerated? Why would they allow people they work with to be tossed out with no where to go? Would you have these answers? I also want to know how much time and how often are people meet with case managers?,I read you can not go to the shelter until 5 pm, do the case managers work after 5 to meet their clients,? Did you receive case management? What do you think of case management, does it work? Thanks for your time


From Disneyland

A case manager has no authority to overstep a shelter worker’s actions!! That is Dee’s rules and case manager’s fear her!!! They cannot even talk to ex-employees in the street for fear of retribution. They literally shake in their boots if you even try to engage to even say hello to them. The CM’s look around to see if “others” are watching them try to have a simple conversation for fear that if seen with an ex-employee possibly a homeless or other characters will run and tell Shawn Ison or Dee Torres that they were seen talking to “ex-employee”. Case managers have been told to absolutely keep their mouths shut about Prado or the night Shelter or else.!!!!!


jrstone

Karma2come,


I’m not sure of all the ins-and-outs of the Case Management Program as I would not participate in it. Anytime someone puts an emphasis on my money rather than my well being I’m not too inclined to participate. I was told point blank that before I could even be considered for Case Management I had to show “good faith” and a “serious intent” by giving Family Ties a money order (an amount was never discussed) and because I only had a checking account I would have to “deposit” 70% of my disability benefits with Family Ties every month.


I have an idea for the community of SLO, something I would be more than willing to participate in: Why don’t the lot of us get together and petition CAPSLO and the County Supervisors to make available for publication the numbers on the CAPSLO Case Management Program. Those numbers should include its budget, payroll, number of employees (Case Managers) and their hours worked per week, number of clients in the last year, number of successful clients that have “graduated”, number of clients that have not, number of people considered and number of people accepted. It should also include the qualifications of Case Managers and how they go about doing their job including what resources they utilize.


CAPSLO stands for Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County, right? So this is suppose to be a partnership between CAPSLO and our community, correct? And in any partnership one partner has the RIGHT to ask the other to “see the numbers”, right?!! We, the community, are CAPSLO’s partner and it’s about damn time we are treated as such! But more importantly its about damn time we start acting like one!


This program, Case Management, should be evaluated and its value judged by the numbers. If those numbers don’t add up then we, the community, as partners, should demand changes!


Jeff Stone


karma2come

I agree with you completely! I’m sure those numbers and services provided have to be available for public record especially because they receive county, state, and federal funds. I’m just not sure how to go about getting the information. In previous post I have read at least 2 posts from people who were on case management and they stated they were counted as success stories although CAPSLO did nothing to help. Both stories as I recall stated that Ms Torres was the one responsible for them not receiving help, I don’t remember exact details; I just remember thinking by counting those people as success stories, that could be fraud, and I wondered how many others were counted and not helped?


slocal

Perfectly put and on point.


TruthFairy

You are saying Dee should take a leave of absence because she is suing someone? Because as far as CAPSLO goes, she was exonerated and there is not one complaint called in to the agency. So what you read at this site and what is reality are two different things. CAPSLO did an investigation. CAPSLO and someone unrelated do an investigation. ccn came to the board meeting when the results were read. However, THEY didn’t stay to listen. This goes on all the time. There was a man who came in to support ccn and HE was from the media. I think he has a radio program, and he sat to the end, when they read off all the investigations, all the audits all the third party, non partial information that was presented, and it was enough so that the man from the radio wrote a letter that actually said he should have done more critical thinking. He had nothing to do with CAPSLO. He called Dave Congelton but Dave, like any time there is some one making sense and it doesn’t agree with his agenda, cut the man off. There is no reason for Dee to step aside.


Kevin Rice

Step aside Dee. At a minimum it’s nepotism. The abuse of homeless by a homeless organization is untenable.


1inthemiddle

I think you miss the point. The allegations have been investigated and CAPSLO ans the city of SLO found no reason for further investigation. One of those rare cases where someone seams to have got it wrong but won’t back down.


If jrstone was correct that Torres has created a distraction that impacts the ability to provide services then the typical response would be a paid leave while the issue is resolved. Since for all appearances the issue is resolved except on CCN and with regards to a possible slander suit, it seems the suggestion is past it’s usefulness. I do agree that most likely she should be perceived as a public figure and is stuck enduring baseless attacks from where ever they may come.


PaulJones

Investigated by her cronies! LOl, LOL,LOL.


Show me an real investigation by an outside independent agency and then I’ll take notice.


From Disneyland

Really why didn’t CAPSLO (her cronies) call the four that were named in CAPSLO’s demand letter to shut the f up or else!!! They certainly had their names, addresses, and even there phone numbers….a server was sent to each and every one of their homes,so CAPSLO could of just as well sent them an invitation to come speak to their “investigative panel” to expound on their side of the story. They supposedly interrogated only the most recent employees and a few old guard employees to say exactly what they were “supposed” to say. Saw no evil, heard no evil, and “spoke” no evil???!!!! But truth will come out as it always does. Sooner, hopefully, than later, but truth always, always prevails.


Cindy

Paul, If they were to have a real investigation, the same thing that happened in Paso with Lisa Solomon would happen here. The investigation would end up being squashed after the evidence against her was found overwhelming. Then just like the Paso CC, CAPSLO would claim that Dee had to resign because she could no longer do her job. Then they would blame it all on a local media news site rather than on the guilty party who got outted by the press !


I mean really, that’s what would happen. I see a repeat of what happened in Paso coming to SLO town.


pasoparent5

Lisa Solomon Chitty also got a quarter of a million bucks because the city council agreed that her reputation was tarnished. (Like it’s the taxpayers’ faults that she did what she did!)


I wonder if the same will happen when Dee Torres resigns/retires/however they want to phrase it. I don’t see her continuing at CAPSLO in the future. Will she also get a huge payout? I wouldn’t be surprised.


MaryMalone

Maybe she should just accept the payout as monies already lifted from CAPSLO, and call it a draw.


Word

1inthemiddle says: “If, Since for all appearances, it seems, I do agree ”


So now you are just stringing hypothesis together to make everyone feel all better.

Once the lawsuits are over and the feds are done, then we will know.


We can all pretend it’s over, if that’s what you are into.


Me? I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, the wheel move slowley but it moves.


MaryMalone

Richard Nixon also investigated himself and found himself innocent of connection to the Watergate break-ins. So should he have remained in office, even though there was abundant evidence that he was not only in it up to his pits, but that he directed much of it?


From Disneyland

Change the name from Richard Nixon to Dee Torres: “I am not a crook” i’ve been exonerated by my cronies from CAPSLO!!!!! They found no fault in me!~~~


Word

If you keep chanting “THEY didn’t stay, HE was from the media”, then you will feel all better.


“CAPSLO did an investigation” Sort of like PG&E investigating pipeline safety or the NSA protecting our privacy.


LAH

TruthFairy, Exonerated?? NO you are mistaken Dee has NOT been exonerated!! NOT by the Public! Sorry but BIZ LIZ saying “What issues?” is Far from EXONERATED!! I agree with her going on leave, that is the Right thing to do. Tell her (since you are either Dee, Liz, or some other cohort) that the People of SLO County WANT the investigation to go on and Want Dee to step down until further notice!


karma2come

Do the posting from former homeless mean nothing? They lived it, endured the harassment, and were the ones who suffered at the hands of Ms Torres. I say be gone forever not until further notice! The damage is done the dirty little secrets have been exposed, and over and over it’s the same name that is mentioned, Dee Torres. There are a number of workers but those names aren’t mentioned as being the ones to be doing the mistreating. Normally in situations like this the line staff get the accusations because they work hands on with the people daily, doesn’t anyone find it odd that everyone points fingers at ONE person?


karma2come

Sounds like everyone in Oz fears the Wicked Witch!


From Disneyland

Well Tammy in the case of Prado, if you were even overheard talking about a situation that was not pleasing to Dee in regards to her shelter, you were put on her hit list. She made sure you were let go by way of inputting “notes” in your file she kept in her drawer. These were at times bogus complaints from other co-workers, who were all rewarded via promotions, or homeless clients who were rewarded for telling Dee what they had heard or observed. Some were not immediately fired, but eventually these people were all fired at various intervals. Proof when subpoena arrives!!!!


TruthFairy

“Proof when subpoena arrives”??? So you are part of this? What does Dee firing people have to do with her ex , who has no credibility what so ever, claiming spent gift certificates? Was Dee even the director when she was married to this abuser?


From Disneyland

Ok, Fairy: Whether or not Dee was or was not the Director in the days of her abusements, does not negate the fact that she was already a thief!!! Let’s not negate the “fact” that there were many employees employed under her at Prado during at least the course of around let’s say 5-10 years. In those years most of these employees were witnesses to her antics, whether her using the gift cards, keeping cash donated monies, or taking the best donated items, There are some ex-employees who will testify only under oath because, believe it or not they still fear Dee!!!! Perhaps Mr. Almirol to you is not credible (alone), but how about 10-20 ex-employees altogether under oath!!! And by the way, who didn’t even know each, and let’s not forget to include “ALL” of Dee’s ex-boyfriends, live-ins, ex-husbands who were also a party to her thievery!!!!


MaryMalone

Apparently, she just could not keep her mouth shut.


Nancy

” Was Dee even the director when she was married to this abuser?”


‘married’, Dee doesn’t worry about getting married when she lives with a guy and has his baby, no they were never married but she had access to plenty of gift cards at the time.


MaryMalone

Oh, my. It sounds like Torres and Hill are alike in many aspects, including their paranoia and vindictiveness.


rogerfreberg

It is hard to believe that anyone would consider anything but a public person. Once you step out in the public view, lead a very public agency and speak publicly in the media… you become a public figure.


Sebastes

Where I work, a sure way to be fired is to get caught stealing.


I know a person who was kicked out of the shelter for stealing toilet paper. The same standard, if not a higher one, should be applied to a person in her position.


At least, she should be let go for poor judgement.


Tammy

In these social service agencies, you can even try and do the right thing and get fired if you’re not “one of them” I worked for an agency, The Women’s Shelter Program. I was fired because I brought to the attention of Mrs. Kennedy/Executive Director, that it is wrong to accept public monies and only service 1/2 the population based on sex. Men suffer from abuse as well, where do they have to go. They told me, women started the shelter for women, let men go start their own.


They fired me because they didn’t like me pointing out what was wrong with the agency but, luckily now they service men too. At least they made it right. They did however offer me a turkey as they fired me the day or so before Thanksgiving. I had prime rib instead.


TruthFairy

That is IF you actually stole something. Here the only person saying that Dee stole anything is some sick ex husband who was found guilty by court of beating her and served a restraining order to keep him away from his own child until she is 18 years old. That alone tells me he is the LAST person I would believe. A weak man who is still trying to hurt, ‘his’ woman. He is the only one saying she stole.


Cindy

WRONG, Almirol is not the only person saying Dee stole gift cards and other items that were donated to the homeless. At least 10 others received attorneys letter threatening to sue them if they kept talking. While Dee has concentrated on Amirol because he hit her once 13 years ago and she can use that to try and shift the focus, there is another ex who also claims she spent gift cards that she took from the shelter while they were together and there is a previous shelter manager who was her side kick who also claims the exact same thing. There are plenty of people who know about this and if Amirol had been the only witness, CCN never would have wrote the story. There are ex’s, employees and friends who all know and witnessed her taking valuable items that were donated for the homeless. Its all been covered in the original series however several names were withheld “for the time being”. This pending case doesn’t mark the end, it marks the beginning. Good Luck, you’ll need it.


Word

TruthFairy says: “Here the only person saying ” no, not the only.


Sorry I thought the truth was important to you, obviously not.


You need a name change, and not the fairy part.


euroamerican

Ms. Torres, has brought so much controversy not only to herself, but to the lack of decent help and service to the Homeless people of our County. In my opinion she has failed to provide the qualities she stated she possessed in her application. If she really cared about the Homeless cause, and the success of CAPSLO homeless service then she would resign….. she could still volunteer if she really cared.


Tammy

EGO and an inflated sense of self is what I gather. I think the organization will survive perhaps thrive without her.