Nipomo man sentenced for raping his adopted daughter

March 23, 2016

justice 2A former foster parent has received a prison sentence of 20 years to life for raping a girl whom San Luis Obispo County officials placed in his Nipomo home. The man adopted the victim, as well as her two siblings, after county officials concluded the foster home offered more safety and stability than the children’s homeless birth parents could provide.

Following the hearing, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow issued a statement praising the victim as a hero.

“The victim in this case is a hero who displayed great courage by reporting the horrible abuse committed against her by someone she trusted and who should have been protecting her,” Dow said. “Abuse like this, whether physical, sexual or psychological will not be tolerated in our community.”

Robert John Bergner, 51, raped and allegedly sodimized one of the three children over a period of six years. The abuse began when the victim was 12 and and lasted until she fled the Nipomo home in 2014 at the age of 18.

In February, Bergner pleaded guilty to committing an aggravated sex act upon a child, which carried a sentence of 15 years to life. Bergner also pleaded guilty to committing a forcible lewd act upon a child, which came with a prison sentence of five years. Prior to the plea deal, Bergner faced a total 126 charges.

Richard and Elizabeth Carroll, the birth parents of the victim, told CalCoastNews their children ended up in the home of the rapist because former Prado Day Center manager Dee Torres-Hill manufactured allegations against them. In one instance, Torres-Hill claimed the mother punched her 5-year-old daughter in the nose.

Torres-Hill manufactured allegations, the Carrolls said, after the family refused to turn over 70 percent of its income to the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO). CAPSLO required the homeless to hand over 70 percent of their non-Social Security income in order to remain in the nonprofit’s case management program.

After taking custody of the three children, county social workers ordered the Carrolls to undergo psychological exams administered by Jeffrey J. Lille, Ph.D. Lille listed himself as a license psychologist, but he was on probation at the time he met with the Carrolls. In 1999, the state revoked his license following an investigation into charges he received oral sex from patients, smoked marijuana with patients and performed exorcisms.

Lille issued a report stating the county provided him with information generated by Torres-Hill. In the report, he claimed Richard Carroll had socialization deficits and a low to average IQ and would likely have future legal issues, a prediction that did not come true. Lille also stated Elizabeth Carroll should attend parenting classes and only have supervised visits with her children.

A county social worker noted Lille’s report eight times in testimony he gave before Superior Court Commissioner Sidney B. Findley in Aug. 2003.

Shortly after listening to the testimony, Findley terminated the Carrolls’ parental rights in favor of a request for adoption by then-foster parents Robert and Valerie Bergner. Findley noted the birth parents’ homelessness and said the Bergners could provide stability for the children.

On Tuesday, Judge John Trice sentenced Bergener in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. During the sentencing hearing, the victim spoke directly to Bergner, as well as others in the courtroom, about how the abuse affected her, a district attorney’s office press release states.


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14 Comments

  1. Ishmael09p says:

    Did Torres have a “mandatory reporter” status as part of her job?
    If so, her hands are clean. If she didn’t, then she did what practically any citizen would do if faced with a credible report of closed-fisted child-rearing. She officially notified somebody of the report.
    Anybody who came into continued contact with a family and knew too little about them to immediately pooh-pooh a child’s claim that he/she had been punched in the nose by a parent would likely do the same.
    Whether or not she was a “mandatory reporter,” she would certainly be aware that many people who worked closely with social services (or with children in general) would have this additional responsibility.
    With or without the designation, a failure to report would have left Torres and her employer open to liability.
    She followed the rules according to her job, and I doubt that people who initiate social service abuse investigation’s are given status as advisors to the process. Nobody at child Welfare called her and asked her to recommend a course of action or a foster family.
    And what, exactly, would have been her husband’s role in the Child Welfare process? Or Stenberg’s, for that matter?
    This tragedy is news — local hard news. Not political news, and certainly not editorial page news until after all investigations are exhausted and a responsible party has been named.

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. sezlittle1 says:

    There are a lot of ways to drag Hill and Torres into stories and blame them. If I get in a wreck on a street in SLO then I can blame Hill and Torres because they have probably traveled down the same street as the wreck.

    (-3) 17 Total Votes - 7 up - 10 down
    • what the says:

      sezlittle BS, spin doctor. Hill and Torres did this to themselves. Get these F***ing, abusive, gangster, wannabes out of SLO.

      (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
  3. GrayGranny2010 says:

    I wish someoe could explain why Dee Torres and CAPSLO and not made accountable for their actions. They are blatantly victimizing the homeless and low-income in our community. How are their actions any different than discriminating against an ethic groups, gender, religious preference? I just don’t understand.

    (42) 52 Total Votes - 47 up - 5 down
    • EducateDistrict3 says:

      GrayGranny,

      Welcome to San Luis Obispo, riddled with “happy” criminals from top to bottom who freely continue to protect each other’s interests.

      An opportunity is at hand to remove Adam Hill, a key figure in all this mess. That decision rests solely on the voters of District 3 this coming June and November.

      (12) 18 Total Votes - 15 up - 3 down
    • r0y says:

      The problem is there’s enough money given to the poor and homeless to justify CAPSLO’s policy of shaking-down 70% of the money taken from others (non-government producers) and given to them (government-takers). It is a dangling carrot.

      Same reason tuition is sky high. Everyone hates evil oil for their massive profits (of which it’s often under 10% – try running a business on a slim margin like that), or everyone hates big pharma for daring to recoup their costs of R&D for not only the successful drugs, but the unsuccessful ones, as well. Yeah, they are evil, they *profit* how dare they? Now comes the government, willy-nilly giving away BILLIONS that it TAKES (confiscates) from people who DARE to produce it, and to show they aren’t TOTAL THIEVES, they give a few crumbs to the ignorant masses… then low-and-behold, a “non-profit” (remember, profit is evil) is started to “get some” and get some, they do. To a tune of over $50,000,000 annually… since 2008 (remember, when the economy bombed for everyone else?).

      Let me ask this: if your need is to take 70% of a homeless person’s income, EVEN THOUGH you have a $50,000,000 (maybe $60M by now) “income” – what is the incentive to help said homeless? What is CAPSLO’s incentive to “free up” and let go of that 70% – which is peanuts, unless you have millions of “families” across California “volunteering” for the shake-down.

      Don’t be afraid to shine the light on CAPSLO. I hate to use the tragic story of that young girl and the more-than-deserved sentencing of the predator to shine a small light here, but if not now, then when?

      …and before someone tells me all the good that CAPSLO does or has done, remember they said the same things about Kelly Gearheart, et. al.

      (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
  4. what the says:

    Adam Hill, does your wife understand she made a mistake getting involved in these people’s lives? Are there any lessons learned here or is this just run of the mill? If you both plan on staying involved in people’s lives in this county (or anywhere) it may be good to address the public regarding this.

    (40) 46 Total Votes - 43 up - 3 down
  5. RealityBytes says:

    Now we know more precisely why CAPSLO requires 70% of their Social Security victims’ incomes.

    Capslo’s method to help people is to help get them on Social Security via their affiliated Family Ties Program and then offer an endless stay at their night shelter while promising to find them housing.

    Lisa Niesen’s shoddy outfit got exposed in early 2013 thanks to the clever work of CCN, which led to the discovery of Dee Torres’ mismanagement at Maxine and Prado after Biz Steinberg, CAPSLO’s CEO, failed to respond to the allegations. Here are 7 CCN articles about Lisa Niesen’s Family Ties: http://bit.ly/21Ho5Zr

    This left Niesen’s Family Ties program fiasco in the dust, an investigation I strongly feel needs to be continued.

    CAPSLO’S new facility at 40 Prado won’t solve homelessness; it is
    comprised of 150-200 beds to rake in the bucks off the disabled. A nonprofit that generates $60M annually, $2M that goes toward the local homeless services program scam.

    (35) 41 Total Votes - 38 up - 3 down
  6. Ted Slanders says:

    The irony is that if Robert John Bergner had lived in the bible times his act upon a young girl would have been disregarded. An example is when Jesus, as god, commanded Moses to destroy the Midianites, and in part, by killing the women that have been with men, but specifically, Jesus (God) told Moses to keep the women children that were virgins for the army captors to be used in any way needed. (Numbers 31: 1-40)

    Barring the fact that these women children were used for sex, the logical question arises beforehand, how were the women children known to be virgins? Ouch!

    As a true Christian, it is sometimes very hard to accept our faith with reason as we pass judgment upon others, but we do the best we can by sidestepping examples like this and moving on.

    (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  7. Jim Anderson says:

    Has Petetit been to court for his felonious, violent, assault on the lady? Haven’t heard a thing.

    (27) 35 Total Votes - 31 up - 4 down
  8. Rich in MB says:

    “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.”

    Run folks….run fast.

    (9) 27 Total Votes - 18 up - 9 down
    • what the says:

      Hi! I’m Adam Hill. :-) I’m from the government. I’m here to help. This is my wife, you can trust her.

      (30) 36 Total Votes - 33 up - 3 down

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