Facts on the Greene vs. Sonoma County Lawsuit
In April 2010 claims were circulated online that the Sonoma County Public Guardian’s Office acted capriciously in their duties and separated an elderly homosexual couple, Harold Scull and Clay Greene, against their will and confiscated and sold their belongings because of their sexual orientation.
It’s simply not true.
Here’s what happened: In April 2008 Harold Scull claimed that he was the victim of domestic violence by his partner Clay Greene. A Sheriff’s report was filed and the proper authorities were notified. Because of his frailty, and in compliance with his wishes, Mr. Scull was moved to a safe and comfortable home in a residential adult care facility.
A key part of the truth that has been overlooked in the online story is that Mr. Scull’s condition required more care than he could have at home and, furthermore, Mr. Scull had expressed to many people his fear about returning home to Mr. Greene. He asked for alternative housing to be found. Mr. Scull was not separated from Mr. Greene against his wishes. (Specific responses to some of the other accusations made online are available in the FAQ section.)
At the order of the Probate Court, responsibility for Mr. Scull's assets was assumed by the Public Guardian’s Office. In August, 2009, a year after Mr. Scull died, the executor of his estate and Mr. Greene filed a lawsuit against Sonoma County and others, claiming that their property was mishandled, that the two men were separated because they were gay, and that they were denied their rights under the law. On July 21, 2010, to avoid the substantial expense of a potential 4-6 week trial, the County has agreed to a settlement of $300,000 to the plaintiff’s attorneys $275,000 to Clay Greene, and $25,000 to the estate of Harold Scull for property that belonged to the men that was sold at less than the full alleged value at auction.
The Public Guardian is, and always has been, dedicated to protecting vulnerable seniors who have nowhere else to turn. After reviewing claims related to the litigation the Grand Jury concluded that “The Staff of the Public Guardian’s Office is highly knowledgeable and qualified for the tasks of providing conservatorship as defined in the probate code . . . For those who cannot fend for themselves and for those who have no family or trusted surrogate to speak for them, the PG is there to assure health and well-being are professionally and compassionately available as best it can be.”
On this page, you will find links to the facts in the Scull/Greene case including a description of how the Public Guardian process works, the Grand Jury report on the investigation of the Public Guardian’s Office, links to resources on elder domestic violence, and an online resource to help people ensure that their wishes are carried out in these kinds of situations.