SLO County Counsel threatens CalCoastNews

July 31, 2015
Dee Torres-Hill

Dee Torres-Hill

UPDATE: Statements by CalCoastNews editor Bill Loving have been added to this story.

By CalCoastNews staff

A deputy county attorney has sent a threatening email and registered letter to CalCoastNews following publication of an article which included allegations of false testimony given by social worker Dee Torres-Hill. Court records show that Torres-Hill, the wife of county supervisor Adam Hill, provided information to child welfare officials in 2001 that later contributed to a family losing custody of their three children to the household of an alleged child rapist.

Deputy County Counsel Debra K. Barriger sent the communications to CalCoastNews asserting that disclosure of information contained in a recent article on this site is “protected by law” and expressing the hope that “court intervention” will not be necessary. She advised reporters to cease referencing and to destroy court documents, or risk misdemeanor charges. Barriger wrote in the July 30 letter that “information contained in such reports may also be privileged and confidential under state and federal regulations.”

Barriger wrote that “regardless of the manner in which you or your organization acquired the documents, continued use and possession is a violation of law.”

CalCoastNews editor Bill Loving questioned the county attorney’s priorities.

“I cannot understand why the county attorney is threatening CalCoastNews rather than looking into the process that put three children into the home of a man accused of being a child rapist,” Loving said. “It is clear from the first two parts of the series that there are serious questions about the process that was used to take the children from their parents.”

The 15-year-old documents were provided to CalCoastNews by the birth parents of three children who, after being removed from their custody, were placed in the Nipomo home of a man now charged with 126 counts of child sexual abuse, including rape and sodomy.

Barriger also referred to a recent exchange of emails between CalCoastNews Publisher Karen Velie and Lee Collins, head of the county’s Social Services Department. Barriger said an email from Velie seeking information about adoption and foster home policies “references summaries or reports to the court.”

In the email, Velie asked Collins why his agency provided to the court allegations proven unfounded by a police investigation.

“CalCoastNews will continue to report this story,” Loving said. “It needs to be reported, especially as it appears that there was no system of checks and balances to protect the child who was victimized repeatedly for six years.”

It is true that juvenile court records are confidential, but that confidentiality is not absolute, Loving said. Such court records have been made public in the past and CalCoastNews broke no laws when it was given access to the records, he said.

“Were any laws broken when the reports about the parents were made to police,the child protective system and the courts?” Loving asked. “Because the system is supposed to put the best interests of the children first, shouldn’t the process used in this case, be looked at first?”

408plhltr by CalCoastNews


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93 Comments

  1. newscruzer1 says:

    Scott,
    I could not disagree with you more when you stated, “we should have a 100% independent Criminal Grand Jury, and picked by the DA or the Judges”
    If picked by either of those two, tell us how that would be completely independent?.
    Do you honestly believe there wouldn’t be ties existing between them!
    It would be like placing a fox in the hen house,expecting the fox to watch over and protect them.
    I have proof beyond a shadow of a doubt where a San Luis Obispo Police Officer got the witness stand in open court and committed perjury during a jury trial, and later that same officer being appointed to head up complaints between citizens and the police.
    Also proof beyond a shadow of a doubt when a former San Luis Obispo County Sheriff put out a letter to the community, stating his officer was not suspect of any wrongdoing, when in fact that officer was found to be holding back evidence that would of proved that suspect of committing wrongdoing was in fact innocent. It was further learned it was that same officer who committed the wrongdoing.
    Or how about a judge hearing a civil action law suit against a San Luis Obispo Policer Officer that was believed to be a former deputy sheriff!
    This in of itself does not mean all Police Officers, Judges or County Sheriff’s are dishonest, but when you have ones that have been proven to be so, it cast a light of suspicion on all.
    What makes this especially difficult is that there is a law that says, Law Enforcement Personnel can’t be forced to undergo a lie detector examination.
    I personally wish to believe people who choose to get into the line of work do so because they want to help protect.
    Peace to all those who love truth and righteousness.

    (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
    • Scott says:

      I would agree with you, I thought i made the point but i must have said it wrong, an independent Criminal Grand Jury should be comprised of local citizens, business, education, public safety, doctors, teachers, and at least 1/2 should be just regular common people. So I’m sorry if i misspoke or wrote. Having been on several Criminal Grand Juries both Federal and many County.

      The current was the law is written in Calif, they would have to have one person from the DA’s office, i would not want that nor one picked by any local judges.

      So i stand corrected, NO CRIMINAL GRAND JURY should ever have any local Law Enforcement on it nor anyone from the courts. Just today i had a conversation with our State’s Attorney Generals office with her top assistant and the really sad thing is we could have a Criminal Grand Jury but no in the system wants one here ?

      Now I know why it is we the people of this community who must stand up and speak up there is far too much Wrong doings going on, again today one of the thugs Ian sent to harass me on 7-21-15 Commander McDonald was following me in town he was pointed out to me by none other that a local lawyer. So i went to him he took off like the lying coward he is Commander Stuart A. Macdonald his email smacdonald@co.slo.ca.us he likes to make threats thinking no one is monitoring him….805-781-1423

      (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  2. tstjbh says:

    Is Freedom of the Press a concept that has been totally forgotten?? If you acquire documentation that can be verified as factual then it is actually your duty to PRINT IT!! The fact that it is embarrassing to law enforcement and is a mere inconvenience for them should not be brushed away with a mere cease and desist order or else what!!!

    (13) 17 Total Votes - 15 up - 2 down
    • newscruzer1 says:

      Rightly stated!
      I at times get in a mode to where I just feel like writing what first comes to mind, and if too me makes sense, then that’s all that matters.
      In this instance however perhaps I should of kept it simple as you so apply did.
      Times have certainly changed, and the way the news is reported has changed right along with everything else.
      We should be grateful for those brave reporters who refuse to cave into pressure when reporting events that has a direct influence on our lives or the way in which government officials conduct business.

      (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
  3. Otis says:

    Thanks Scott. Excellent reply and analysis.

    (9) 15 Total Votes - 12 up - 3 down
  4. newscruzer1 says:

    Oh, the times in which were living in, are they not perplexing, bending the minds of thinking people in an attempt to sway opinion to one side or the other!
    Bend the bar of steel, but touch not truth lest you feel so heated up that conscious matters not and to the side of one’s opinion is where the truth will find its rest, be it, the truth bent or not.
    Ridder is the talented as he runs with weight in hand, running the horse as fast as he can, for there is a message to be heard, and heard it will be, like it or not, for this rider is the watchdog who’s chosen his course to fight the cause of right for the little forgotten ones who struggle for balance in an unbalanced land
    Mighty and powerful are ones with ear stops, marked in the signs of dollars with trinkets of pleasure and fun, given, they say freely, all need to to attain is obey the master who holds the whip of dungen stripes to force your hand.
    Conscious weighs heavy in one’s heart on which side to take a stand, asking silently within is this now not the times in which were living that I must decide to defend, it’s the age ole question we battle called right vs wrong, and from that many a verse have been coined in poem and song.
    For it is truly about the right, begging your answer as to whether or not you will stand up and be the man you were made to be in taking a final stand.
    The clock is ticking, tell us true, can you hear it running out, or are you mearley fooling yourself in believing not.Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
    All we hear is talk without the tick, just talk, and now it seems mankind is all talked out, or is that, ticked off!

    (6) 12 Total Votes - 9 up - 3 down

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