By LARRY MITCHELL - Staff Writer
Kay Roberts lost her home, some of her money and much of her freedom when she was put in a conservatorship under supervision of the Butte County Public Guardian's Office last year.
The "unkindest cut of all," Kay feels, came when the county limited the ability of her son, Bill, to visit her or even talk to her on the phone.
For a number of weeks last summer, Kay, who is 84, remained as a (prisioner)private-pay patient at Riverside Convalescent Hospital, where she was taken after treatment at Enloe Medical Center following a fall. It was a frustrating, uncomfortable time for her and her family and friends.
Bill Roberts said his mother was unhappy and cried and cried. She feared she'd never leave the place and was convinced the county would end up taking all her money. "I've never seen a human being so distraught," he said. "She deteriorated so much. She just gave up."
Judge Darrell Stevens had called a hearing for Sept. 18 to consider whether the public guardian's temporary conservatorship should become a full conservatorship.
A controversy arose over whether Kay should attend the hearing. Kay is spunky and insisted on going to the session. (In her youth, she'd hitchhiked from Missouri to San Francisco. Later, she joined the Army and served on Gen. Eisenhower's clerical staff in England before the Normandy invasion.) She wasn't going to miss the court date, Mel Jones said.
According to Bill, the deputy public guardian handling Kay's case, Christi Calkins, had told Sue Cooke, owner of Oakwood Guest Home, that there was no need for Kay to go to the hearing. But Bill said the family's attorney, William Stuart III, told him his mother was entitled to attend her own hearing.
In a letter, Bill described what happened on Sept. 18, when he and Jones went to the board-and-care home to take Kay to the hearing. He said Frank Cooke, co-owner of the facility, told them Kay was not supposed to attend the hearing.
But Jones asked Kay if she wanted to attend. When she answered that she did, Bill said he and Jones prepared to escort her out of the facility.
Cooke told them he was going to call the police, Bill said, and Jones said, "Go ahead, but you are not keeping this woman from her hearing."
Just as Jones, Bill and Kay were about to drive out of the parking lot, Sue Cooke drove up and stopped her car beside them, Bill said. "She yelled out the window to us, 'Consider this a 30-day notice. You are evicted!' "
Bill said it was apparent that for some reason Christi Calkins didn't want his mother at the hearing. In the courtroom, she looked shocked when she saw Kay there.
According to documents in Kay's court file, Judge Stevens, at the Sept. 18 hearing, "ordered that (Kay) Roberts' son, William, have supervised visitation with his mother due to his behavior which caused an eviction of Mrs. Roberts from Oakwood Guest Home."
He ruled Bill must obtain permission from the public guardian to visit his mother, and that the visits must take place in parts of the facility open to the public.
It was thought that the visits from her son were very upsetting to her as she would cry more often after his visits."
The latter allegation was ridiculous, according to Bill, Hetherington and Jones. It's true, Kay would often cry after Bill's visits, they said. She was crying because she hated to have him go. She missed him.
Bill acknowledged circumventing the rules about seeing his mother by meeting her and Jones at restaurants. And he admitted talking to her on the phone after other people had placed calls to her. But for several months, he said, he didn't see his mother a great deal.
There was no good reason for restricting Bill's visits with his mother, Kay, Bill, Jones and Hetherington all agreed. They said he's never harmed Kay. He's always looked after her, and they've been very close.
Kay said she's very unhappy about what's happened. "It's just murder," she said in a recent interview. "I don't know why the county's done what it's done. My son is my whole life. Why take him away from me? Why did they do that?"
Enterprise-Record intern Robert Hernandez contributed to this story.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second story in a three-part series.
Abridged for E.A. Source=>>
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
By LARRY MITCHELL - Staff Writer