Dollars or sense for Carroll family children?

August 3, 2015
Elizabeth Carroll with her children in 2001.

Elizabeth Carroll with her children in 2001.


Editor’s Note: This is the last of a three-part exclusive series detailing how three children were taken from their parents and placed in a home with a man now accused of sexual assault. Find part one here and part two here.

San Luis Obispo County expects $21 million in revenue from the state and federal government for its foster parenting and adoption programs for the 2015-2016 budget year. That provides agencies such as the county, affiliated non-profits such as Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), psychologists, attorneys and the courts with a financial stake in taking children from their birth parents.

The Adoption and Safe Family Act, passed in 1997, provides bonuses of $2,000 to $6,000 to state and county governments for moving foster children into adopted families. Additionally, the county receives monthly subsidies for adopted families of up to $1,450 per child. The county keeps a 40 percent administration fee from the foster and adopted children’s subsidies before sending the remainder to be used for the child’s needs, according to a report by the California State Auditor.

The cost to the county for foster children deemed un-adoptable can top the 40 percent administration fee, as many of these children require costly ongoing county oversight and multiple services.

But, adoptive children provide a county funding source that allows the county to forego the costly oversight required for foster children. A child qualified for adoption subsidies can bring in revenue of up to $300,000 to be split between the county and adopted parents if the child is taken from its birth parents as an infant, according to California’s current adoption subsidy funding schedule.

CalCoastNews has been reporting in this series on three children who were taken from their birth parents and adopted by a couple in Nipomo. The husband and adoptive father, Robert John Bergner, 51, has been charged with 126 counts of child abuse, rape and sodomy of the eldest child.

The Carroll family before the court terminated Richard and Elizabeth Carroll's parental rights.

The Carroll family before the court terminated Richard and Elizabeth Carroll’s parental rights.

Questions have been raised about the process that appears to have led Superior Court Commissioner Sidney B. Findley to terminate the parental rights of Richard and Elizabeth Carroll and permit the adoption of the children by Bergner and his wife.

The Carrolls were homeless and the Bergners had their own home.

“I am convinced these children need permanency and that is what the law requires,” Findley said in his ruling. “All decisions that I make, I make because I believe they are in the best interest of the children.”

But a review of the process suggests that Findley may not have been given a complete or accurate picture of the birth parents.

Shortly after taking their three children into custody, social workers ordered Richard and Elizabeth Carroll to have a psychological exam with Jeffrey J. Lille, Ph.D. According to Lille’s report, the county provided him with information first generated from former Prado Day Center Manager Dee Torres. Torres claimed that Elizabeth Carroll punched her 5-year-old daughter.

San Luis Obispo Police Officer Mike Brennler responded to the call and, based on his own questioning of the child and his direct observation, determined that Elizabeth Carroll had not punched the girl and had not abused her younger brother. That information was not in Lille’s report.

The Carrolls met with Lille on Dec. 31, 2001 for a little less than an hour, they said. Lille discussed their childhoods and gave them several tests, according to court records.

Foster and then adoptive parent Robert Bergner was arrested for rape and sodomy.

Foster and then adoptive parent Robert Bergner was arrested last month for rape and sodomy.

Lille’s report says he ran four tests – the MMPI-2, the Rorschach Psychodiagnostic test, the Thematic Apperception Test, and sections of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – on each parent.

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale assessment takes from 42 minutes to an hour, clinical trials have demonstrated.

The Thematic Apperception Test involves showing the test subject 31 picture cards and having the subject tell a story about each picture.

The Rorschach Psychodiagnostic test requires a test subject to look at 10 images/inkblots. The subject tells the medical professional what the subject sees. The test then requires the subject to look at the images again and explain how the subject saw what was reported.

The MMPI-2 test alone takes between 60 minutes and 90 minutes to administer causing several mental health professionals to question Lille’s report in light of the Carrolls’ memory of a visit that ran less than an hour.

In Lille’s 17-page report, he says Richard Carroll has socialization deficits stemming from his childhood and a low to average IQ, and is likely to have future legal issues. In the almost 14 years since Lille saw Richard Carroll, he has not been arrested or had other legal issues. Richard Carroll has been employed  as a security officer, a job requiring a clean police record, since 2008.

Lille states Elizabeth Carroll should attend parenting classes and only have supervised visits with her children.

Lille lists himself as a licensed psychologist. It does not mention that he was on probation at the time he met with the Carrolls, and required to inform all current and potential parties in a signed release about his probation and its effects on his patients’ and employer’s confidentiality.

On Nov. 2, 1999, the state revoked Lille’s license following an investigation into charges he received oral sex from a patient during a session; that he had sex with several patients after sessions; that he smoked marijuana with patients; and that he performed exorcisms, according to court records.

“While serving as Crystal B.’s treating psychotherapist, respondent told Crystal B. he observed a three-headed monster above Crystal B.’s head during a hypnotherapy session,” according to a Dec. 14, 1998 accusation by the Attorney General of the State of California. “Respondent told Crystal B. the monster indicated that she was possessed. Respondent then worked for over a year to exorcise the demons.”

In the process that led to have the revocation stayed and five-years probation, Lille admitted to inventing the “monster” and smoking marijuana with patients.

On Jan. 21, 2000, Lille received five-years probation which included a six-month license suspension, oversight of his practice, and a requirement to have all clients sign a release stating that they were aware of issues related to Lille’s probation, according to a stipulated settlement and disciplinary order.

In Lille’s report that the county’s Department of Social Services provided to the court, it does not mention his probation.

Throughout California, multiple lawsuits have been won against counties for returning seriously abused children often deemed un-adoptable to abusive homes. At the same time, birth parents have won suits against counties and social workers who fabricated or withheld evidence in order to permanently remove adoptable children from their birth parents.

County social workers often describe in reports that children are dirty, have lice, and are acting strangely, while probing parents’ histories. Any past history of mental illness or drug or alcohol treatment can result in actions to terminate parents’ rights, county records show.

In the case of the Carroll family, even though there was no report of any physical abuse by Richard Carroll, witnessed or documented injuries consistent with abuse, county social workers told the court the father was extremely abusive to his eldest daughter, court records show.

In addition, the Carrolls have no adult history of non-traffic-related legal issues, though Richard Carroll admitted that several years before his eldest daughter was born, he had used drugs. Court documents subsequently revealed that county staffers (and others representing entities receiving monies from social services) noted repeatedly that the father’s participation in Narcotics Anonymous and admission of prior use were concerning — even though the Carrolls had not tested positive for drug use,

In 1998, The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety,” these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation, than children raised by their birth families.

In 2003, the California Little Hoover Commission reported that 30 percent to 70 percent of the children in California group homes did not belong there, and should not have been removed from their homes.

Allegations and actions of child welfare services workers and the juvenile court are shrouded in secrecy to protect children. However, the lack of transparency also protects the actions of those who benefit financially from having little or no oversight, critics say.

In the case of the Carrolls, unfounded claims that a child was “punched” and of physical abuse by the father were reported by a non-profit agency that receives county funding. The assertions were then repeated by county staffers to a psychologist paid by the county.

The psychologist repeated the initial claims by Torres at the non-profit in his reports, which county social workers memorialized in their statements to the court

On Aug. 18, 2003, Christopher Monza, a San Luis Obispo County social worker, noted psychologist Lille’s report eight times in his testimony to the court, though he never mentioned the doctor was on probation for allegedly having sex with his patients, or that he invented monsters in order to keep a patient returning to him for an ongoing exorcism.

“I’m relying on Dr. Lille’s report as well and what he found,” Monza testified to the court, according to the court transcript. “Dr. Lille, even though he finds that there are, there is bonding between the children and the parents, he makes a conclusion at the idea that the birth parents’ relationship promotes the well-being of the children, but does not exist to such an extent that it would outweigh the permanent home of the adoptive parents.”

Shortly after listening to Monza’s testimony, Superior Court Commissioner Sidney B. Findley terminated the parental rights of the Carrolls paving the way for the adoptions.

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THANK YOU C C N,for putting out my familys story,


Your story is heart wrenching.

By coming forward, it is my hope that what you and your family have gone through will help bring some much needed change to a system which is clearly broken and not acting in the best interest of the children it is supposed to help.

I wish you, your wife, and your children only the very best going forward.


As usual, follow the money. BTW, did anyone ever ask the children what they wanted? This story sickens me.


A San Diego family was recently awarded 1.1 Million $$ after CWS illegally removed 2 children from their home. Not only did the social worker and police not have a warrant but they wouldn’t have been able to get one either.



Could someone please post a list of the names of all the people who work for CWS so everyone knows what some of their neighbors really do. These people are greed driven evil bastards who should be run out of town. How embarrassing to even work for such a corrupt agency. And for Dee Torres, scum of the earth.


This is making me sick. I just did some research and learned that the incentives ($$$ to the state and CWS) go up incrementally (and % wise) every year if CWS adopts more children than they did the year before. In other words if CWS adopts out 10 more children in 2015 than they did in 2014 they get 125-150% for every child that exceeds the previous years count. Adoptable children are your lovely children, not children with real emotional problems from years of abuse, or children of crack mothers but well behaved, darling children, usually white children as there is a surplus of minority children who have been given up for adoption, but white adoptable children are in short supply. Also keep in mind that the adoptive parents receive considerable monies for adopting these children up until the age of 18 (as does CWS) including monthly payments for room and board plus clothing +++. If the child goes to college , they receive college funding plus all the incentives until the age of 22. If these funds were offered to the biological parents, there probably wouldn’t be any problem to begin with as most children are not taken because of physical abuse but because of poverty. These poor children are often adopted simply for the money that the family will receive each month. These poor kids, how sick have our government agencies have become. Mighty sick and mighty evil.

PARENTS- KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. . All parents should read this link. CWS could knock on anyone’s door at anytime. All it takes is an anonymous phone cal. Again know what to do and what not to do when they come for your children.


I feel sick now.


So infants garner the most money. This explains why CWS trolls the maternity wards looking for any reason to steal an infant. All hospital staff are now required under law to be reporters. They don’t have to have any proof, just a suspicion and they must report it to CWS. Postpartum depression or acting a little stupid can deem a new mother to be dangerous or incompetent.

Now here is a true story.

My friend was within a few day’s of her due date when she developed impacted wisdom teeth. Her dentist sent her to a surgeon who told her that she would require general anesthesia to remove the impacted teeth. He agreed with her that since she was so close to delivery that she would have to wait for surgery and he prescribed her a low dose of Vicodin to cope with the pain from the impaction of her teeth. She then called her MD and asked him about the Vicodin and he agreed that it would be fine for her to take it. Even so, she took it sparingly and at half the dose she was prescribed. She didn’t take any at all 16 hours prior to her delivery but rather dealt with the pain from the impacted teeth along with the labor. After her delivery, guess who showed up while she was nursing her baby and took the infant from her breast? That’s right, CWS did. Unknown and unauthorized by her, the hospital had ran drug tests on her like they do to all new mothers who deliver infants. When they found the traces of Vicodin (which they hadn’t administered), they called CWS. They didn’t even inquire with her before they called CWS, the hospital called CWS first and then left her to explain it. CWS, didn’t even check out her story, they just took her baby.

Despite her dentist and her MD providing letters within 2 days about the Vicodin, CWS kept her infant (Kelly) for 3 weeks. Kelly was deprived of bonding with her mother and also of breast feeding and the important immunities that she as an infant would receive during her first few days of life from her mothers breast milk. CWS wanted to keep Kelly for months while they tried to make her mother (my friend) attend drugs classes but her MD took a personal interest and intervened with threats to CWS.

I might add that no other drugs where found in my friends system, she has never taken drugs, does not drink, has no criminal record and had never been involved with CWS in the past. It was all about finding a reason to steal her infant and the hospital helped them to find an excuse. Without her MD, who knows what they would have made up to try and keep that baby?

We the people need CWS REFORM. Until then, I suggest that woman get midwives, they (CWS) are out to KIDNAP and SELL your infants.


Regarding my last statement about having babies at home with a midwife. It you are not at risk and healthy, there is no reason to go to a hospital if you have taken classes for home birth.

While it will take time to enact CWS reform, we can all send a FAST message to the hospitals by refusing to trust them with the delivery of our infants.

God Bless America


Let me tell you my tale of woe regarding CWS.

Many years ago on a friday evening CWS came to my door with a detective and a PO in uniform.

They told me and my wife they were removing my daughter for her “protection”.

They would not tell us why. It was the most traumatic event in my life. Any parent can well imagine the horror of having your precious child taken from you.

Being a friday night, we were told we’d have to wait till a “special investigator” interviewed my daughter on monday. Worst weekend of my life.

My wife and I were afraid and wondered if it was because we smoked a little marijuana once in awhile.

I finally got ahold of the detective sunday night and he told me that one of my daughters child care providers (an 18 year old Poly student) had reason to suspect sexual abuse by me.

My first thought was;”thank God it isn’t about the marijuana”.

My second thought was more of a feeling of great relief because I knew there was no abuse and I was innocent.

They called us monday afternoon and said we could come get our daughter. They said they were sorry and that the investigation determined there was no abuse. (gee thanks)

They said the child care provider asked my daughter “leading” questions.

Apparently my daughter said that she took showers with me and that I licked her pee pee.

She had seen us in the shower, and she caught us in the bedroom at an inoppurtune time right before this happened Oops!

My daughter was very precocious and talkative for her age and I am sure she was trying to impress the child care girl with her knowledge of what parents did.

I wanted to sue CWS but quickly found out they are protected by the courts and untouchable.

CWS traumatized my daughter. they took her kicking and screaming with all the neighbors watching.

This is hard for me to talk about because it was so embarrassing and no matter how innocent one is, there is always some who wants to think the worst.


you dont sue c w s as a whole you go after them one bye one


You have posted this story twice. I read your story that you posted on the previous page. I replied to you there. My heart breaks for you. his should never have occurred in the way it did over the imagination of an untrained 18 year old student.


Just heard a report that CC had a blood pressure spike and ordered one of her subordinates to send CCN another threatening letter as soon as this installment posted.


Hi Folks, I just started reading these articles and feel I must tell my tale of woe regarding CPS.

Years ago years, CPS came knocking on my door at 7pm on a friday evening. The CPS person had a detective and a uniformed PO with her. She told me they were removing my two and a half year daughter from my home for her safety, they wouldn’t tell me what that danger was.

They took my daughter (she was screaming and crying for her mommy and daddy) and completely traumatized all of us. We had no idea why this was happening but at the same time were worried because we did smoke a little pot once in awhile.

Being a friday night, we were told that she would be elsewhere for the weekend and that after a “special investigator” talked to her on monday they would let us know what was happening.

Spent the whole weekend agonizing over my little girl. Was she safe? Is she ok…….. it was pure Hell.

I think I finally got a hold of the detective sunday evening and he told me that one of my daughters day care workers said my daughter told her something to make her suspect sex abuse. My first thought was;”thank God they don’t know about the marijuana. My second thought was more a feeling of elation because I knew I was completely innocent. I offered to take a lie detector test and the detective told me maybe, to wait till monday.

We get a call monday afternoon to come get our daughter. I was told the investigation determined there was no abuse and that the child care worker had asked my daughter “leading questions”.( My daughter had probably seen her mother and I having sex I remember her catching us right before this happened, Oops! and she had seen us in the shower before. Being very precocious and talkative for her age, I am sure she was making it up for attention or something). They told us ;”sorry”.

You all must understand the agony they put us through! It was the most traumatizing and embarrassing thing to ever happen to me. My neighbors saw them take my daughter kicking and screaming. Any parent can imagine what horror it would be to have your child taken.

CPS is omnipotent. I found this out because I wanted to sue them and quickly found out they are protected by the courts from any lawsuits.

I have worked for the govt. for over 25 years and I can tell you its all about the numbers. CPS, like any agency, has to justify their budget and number of caseworkers. The more cases, the more money.

I believe CPS often does more harm than good in many, many of their cases. I think most people (like me) are so traumatized and embarrassed, that they don’t talk about it because as we all know no matter how innocent you are there is always going to be someone…..

Today my daughter doesn’t really remember this incident but sometimes I wonder if it had a negative effect on her. I still cringe with frustrated rage every time I think of CPS.


My heart breaks for you. It seems to me that it was the care worker( who asked all the leading questions) that should have been taken in for an in-depth interview first and questioned about “exactly” how she had come to her conclusion. It’s scary to think that anyone, even a neighbor who might not like you can call CWS and your child along with the entire family can be traumatized like this.

It’s important for parents to know their rights. For instance, parents are often intimidated into turning over children but it actually takes a warrant to take your child. What CWS does is brings someone in uniform along with them and they lead you to believe that you have to relinquish your child to them but you don’t. Without a warrant, you don’t even have to open the door or let them inside. You can call the children to the window if they say they think your children may not be alright and you can tell them to view them from the window. Always ask them for a warrant before you give them your children, even if they have the police with them, they need a warrant unless they have actually seen that your child is injured, beaten or in danger.


“CPS is omnipotent. I found this out because I wanted to sue them and quickly found out they are protected by the courts from any lawsuits.”

Dear rightantru,

CPS is not omnipotent where lawsuits are concerned. They were protected in your case because they had a complaint and investigated it in a timely manner and returned your children within 3 days. That was back many years ago (as you stated) when they were operating more in the fashion that they were intended to. Not that I think your case was properly handled in the way they removed your child but at least your child was returned promptly and they didn’t take months to investigated like they do these days. Back then, it was about the children rather than the money, there were no incentives to keep children so CWS operated in earnest with the best interest of the children and without hidden agendas.

However, when CWS operates as it did in the Carroll case (something that has become common practice) where they intentionally covered up facts, brought forth misinformation as fact, committed perjury, relied on inadequate interviews and reports from incompetent crony psychologists and failed to disclose relevant police investigations that would have impeached the primary witness (ie: Dee Torres) they crossed the line. To that end, their protection against civil and criminal litigation is now compromised and challenged. CWS committed criminal acts and as such are fair game for the justice system, definitely at a civil level. .

CWS has morphed into an engendered entity that is motivated as much by greed as by protecting the children who are truly at risk. They are able to operate unchecked because they use secrecy as a guise to protect the children. This secrecy can not be allowed to continue unchecked. There must be REFORM.

I mention all of the above because a reliable source has told me that a law suit is in the wind, yes, attorneys are looking at this case and these law suits are exactly what it will take to bring the truth about CWS into a national public light. These suits will be the catalyst to bring about reform. It may just start right in in SLO.