Former foster father pleads guilty to child rape

February 26, 2016

slo county sign


A former foster father, who adopted three of his charges, faces 20 years to life in state prison after pleading guilty Thursday to raping a child under 14 years of age. The children were placed with the man after San Luis Obispo County officials concluded his Nipomo home was safer and more stable than lodgings the homeless birth parents could provide.

Robert John Bergner, 51, who was facing 126 charges, pleaded guilty to one felony count of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 and felony lewd acts on a child under 14. His sentencing is scheduled for March 22 in the San Luis Obispo Courthouse.

The victim, now 18, was sexually assaulted by Bergner at the home where she was placed after she and two of her siblings were pulled from their parents’ care in 2002. The abuse began when the girl was 12, the SLO Sheriff’s Department said.

The childrens’ birth parents, Richard and Elizabeth Carroll, told CalCoastNews that false allegations manufactured by former Prado Day Center manager Dee Torres-Hill resulted in their three children being placed in the home of a child rapist. This occurred, they said, after the family refused to hand over 70 percent of their income. CAPSLO required the homeless to turn over 70 percent of their non-Social Security income to remain in case management.

“I couldn’t protect my children because I was homeless,” Elizabeth Carroll said. “And then they put them in a house with this monster.”

In Aug. 2003, Superior Court Commissioner Sidney B. Findley terminated parental rights of the Carrolls in favor of a request for adoption of the three children by then-foster parents Robert and Valerie Bergner, who had more financial wealth than the birth parents. Findley noted the birth parents’ homelessness comparing it to the stability the Bergners could provide.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Let’s send this accidental SLO politician back to New Jersey! Fire Adam Hill 2016!

the funny thing is mr hill was not in the picture when this happed,his nasty wife was

I hope Dan Dow goes after the officials involved in this travesty. Even if they can’t be jailed they need a taste of what it is like to have your life ruined by bad situations.

Dan Dow doesn’t go after anyone. He’s Dan Dan the plea bargain man.

This is a sad situation on so many levels and the worst part is that these kids virtually slipped through the cracks so that all the adults in this situation could be dealt with. From the neglectful parents, the whack-job psychologist (who appears to be looking in the mirror when he describes the birth father), the slacker county social workers who sent the parents to *that* psychologist in the first place, and the judge who didn’t dig deeper before he relinquished parental rights, and Dee Torres? Why wasn’t her claim substantiated by facts first? How did she get so all powerful to just make a claim and everyone falls behind her like frikking sheep?? SHAME on all involved. It’s a terrible thing to be homeless and powerless. I hope the Carroll’s are able to file a suit against this county for their negligent behavior, and I sure hope the kids are able to lead productive lives after all this horrible behavior by the adults in their lives.

Isn’t this the perfect example of why we the people need to stop ceeding more and more power each year to government?

Those of you who are fans of a government being so powerful that a county official has the option to remove children from their parents by concluding a child molestor/rapists home “was safer and more stable than lodgings the homeless birth parents could provide”.

Those who work for government are mediocre men and women who can’t cut it in the real world and we give them the power to steal our children?

Please hold the people who made these decisions personally accountable. Oops, I forgot, they work for government and probably just got a raise because another year went by.

Keep voting for big government people. This is what you get.

I don’t know this case at all, although I have read enough of this reporter to know she has an ongoing witch hunt out for Hill and Torres.

To put the kids pictures on this site, however, is just awful. CalCoastNews and Velie should be ashamed.

Put your personal or idealogical vendetta aside for a second and consider if this had happened to you! Would you want your picture on this site accompanying this story.

Have a heart.

As far as the kids are conserned, They don’t mind these pictures being used and have all read the past stories that were written and posted. I don’t know of any personal vendettas that this news crew has against Torres-Hill. But the way I see it- If Dee didn’t have a checkered past and had no reason to be in the news- then she wouldn’t be. It is how ever sad that Mr. Hill has to have his wifes past come to like in this manner. I wonder how much he knew before he married her.

Yes, yes – by all means, shoot the messenger. THAT should change the facts of the case! I’m sure the family & children suffering because of this will appreciate that.

I just KNEW it had to be a meddlesome reporter and her snooping around that was the problem here!

There are LOTS of guilty parties in this situation-but those beautiful children are certainly not guilty of anything!!! PLEASE have the decency to remove the picture of those minors. Shame on whoever thought it was ok to post a picture of innocent children, even if it is an old picture. Don’t victimize those kids again.

I knew those kids when they were in foster care, after being removed from their horrifically neglectful parents. The county waited waaaaay longer than they should have to remove the children from their birth parents-don’t believe the bs that is printed here. These were simply awful birth parents who did not attend to the health or well-being of their precious children. I knew those amazing kids when they were placed with their adoptive parents, and actually was one of the parties that helped the kids get placed into their adoptive family. I, along with everyone else, am sickened by the actions of Bob Berger, and would gladly throw the switch on him on death row. Don’t blame Social Services or any other agency for one man that covered up his twisted, demented and perverted self from everyone.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet a couple of these kids.

I hope they get the help they deserve, they have been through so much.

They are not only the victims of a sick man, they are also victims of the court, and people like Dee Torres who pretend to be an advocate for others like them.

to Gratefulamerican – I can only imagine how guilty you must feel to have participated in the horrific disassembling of this family, only to put those children in an abusive demented torturous situation called their “Adoptive permanent home”. Unless these kids were physically abused, as they were in their adoptive home, it is never a good thing to take children away from their parents. How cold and callous to be so insensitive over a childs’ love for the family. And over $$??? Ask any child if he would rather have new shoes,toys and a bedroom over being with their own father and mother? Instead of helping the family resolve homelessness you helped rip this family apart. And the worse of it? You based this case on the word of a known thief and liar! I am amazed and bewildered if this family doesn’t sue this county and walk away with a pretty penny. of Course this would only be one of SEVERAL law suits layed upon SS for unethical inappropriate actions.

How in the world can you plead NOT to blame social services or any other agency, when it was entirely their fault?

The only thing I agree with is their pic should not be posted.

But the actions against this family are SHAMEFUL on ALL LEVELS.

Sounds like you have some issues of your own to deal with.

This was hardly a case of new shoes, toys and a bedroom-nor has that been mentioned before you. This was not an issue of homelessness. This was an issue of bad parenting choices from the birth parents.

I would help any other child in the situation these kids were born into in a heartbeat. “Family” should never be put before a child’s well-being, rather by birth or adoption. No child should be forced to try to survive in the circumstances their birth parents forced these kids into.

I know the facts, I am not only reading what is clearly an agenda from people advancing their own cause. The birth parents were offered time and time again help from multiple agencies, and chose not to accept the lifestyle changes that would have kept their family together. Their choice, no one else’s.

You claim that multiple agencies offered to help the parents and they refused, that is hardly the case seeing how they had just recieved their section 8 and were currently looking for a home when this all took place. They even had a women who worked at Social Services as well as helping out at Prado helping them look for housing and even drove them to a couple places to see if they could get them.

Again, if you truely know all the facts regarding this case like you claim to- then lets be truthful in what was happening instead of trying to make up stuff in order to make the birth parents look bad in order to justify what SS, Torres and the courts did as being right.

You are delusional and you don’t even know it. Who are you to determine what makes an acceptable family. Children would be better off camping under a bridge with their family who loved them than being ripped away and placed with strangers.

How sick you are to think your narrow version of life is the ideal one.

“This was an issue of bad parenting choices from the birth parents”.

Lots of parents make bad parenting choices, some worse than others. What parent can claim they were/are the perfect parent? One thing is for sure, it’s a bbig stretch from bad parent to child molester.

I have no doubt these kids wish you’d never “helped” them.

No Gratefulamerican, I have never been on the system. I raised 4 Plus kids. Taking in kids when their parents were in need of help, without compensation. Because its not about the $, its about the security of the childs mind. I now have several Grandchildren.

The stories I hear about the ethics’ of SS make me sick. I have known several employees personally, and would question their abilities to function on a :Common sense: level. NOT all of them! But MANY of them! And that has to be from the very top down. There is an egotistical hierarchy at SS based on self serving desires, and fear based actions. You can not honestly tell me these kids had their parents ripped away from them based on an unbiased “Only for the Kids safety” Mentality. SS just does’t work that way! And WHO are you to say what YOU think if best for these kids? There should have been Several professionals reacting to only “a critical situation”. Not Some looser who was half out of his mind willing to comply to whatever he was told to do!! You Punished the family because they din’t want to comply to Your egotistical rules, and because they refused to give Dee all their $$. Sorry GA, YOU better find a new way, we live in America remember, YOU shouldnt get to choose how people live, when you do, look what happens!!

Dont blame Social Service? Are you kidding? Who’s job is it to make sure these kids were placed in a safe protected environment? That IS your job! The children depend on you to do for them what is necessary to ensure their safety and well being.

who’s job was it to make sure all the facts are straight, all the reports are true? You are dismantling a family, the impact on the kids is life long.

How were you certain that the “punch” charge by Torres was not created out of ego because this family refused to give Dee 70% of their money? Obvious signs of bad behavior this CAPSLO employee. A short investigation would have shown that, just had to ask her co-workers.

Who was responsible for hiring and retaining this phsyc (who had obvious issues) and allow these kids lives to depend on his word?

How does SS NOT properly psychoanalyse the adoptive parents? (Arrested child molesters are psychoanalysed. there IS a test! Why are not all potential adoptive parents put through rigorous tests?

How much $$ does SS receive for taking children from parents and placing them in foster care?

Who else could possibly be responsible for placing these kids in such an abusive home?

So you knew the Birth Parents personally? I am asuming you did in order to make comments about their treatment of the children. I for one would love to hear how awful they were by not attending to the so called health of the kids. Aside from dealing with a case of head lice (something that is common in most schools across america now days) their is nothing saying that these kids were not being cared for or neglected in any way. If you so called “HELPED” in the placement of them into the Bergners home, I also have to asume you work for DSS since there was a small amount of people involved. And seeing how the Bergners went even foster parents until these kids, it is a very small list indeed. Oh did I let that little peice of info slip, you see I happen to be closer to this case then you can even know.

“””” I knew those amazing kids when they were placed with their adoptive parents, and actually was one of the parties that helped the kids get placed into their adoptive family. “””

Then I hope you are one of them that gets sued for everything you have. SHAME ON YOU. Obviously, your post is justifying your actions, and you have no remorse for the demonic thing that you took part of.

Classic case of, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Another fine example of how Dee Torres, and her husband care for our community.

These two people are EVIL.

Dee Torres: I have never used this term in my life but I hope you burn in Hell for this.

It seems every time you dig in the sewer, Dee Hill-Tores floats to the top.