Family claims consensual sex led to dispute at Rancho Bernardo retirement community
Casa de las Campanas has different story
Last Updated: 82 days ago
SAN DIEGO - For the family of Bill and Eileen Miller this is a tough time. The 82-year-old Miller is being evicted from Casa de las Campanas, a non-profit retirement community in Rancho Bernardo.
It's a continuing care facility with 600 residents. The Millers love the place, but retirement home management wants to evict Bill Miller.
Daughter Claudia Kay says she can pinpoint exactly when the tough times began. It all started, she tells Team 10, "when my dad ended up in the hospital because of exhaustion trying to take care of her."
"Her" is Eileen Miller, mother of three and the love of Bill Miller's life. They lived together in their "very nice" two-bedroom, two-bath residence for 10 years on the Casa grounds.
About three years ago, Eileen Miller began showing signs of dementia.
Son-in-law David Kay says, "It was a very difficult time for Bill to take care of her" in their home.
It would be an agonizing decision, as it often is for families, but the family decided to move Eileen Miller, into the Dementia Unit on the Casa de las Campanas grounds. Bill Miller can look out the window of his residence across a parking lot and see the dementia ward, a closed unit where his wife lives .
"He was very insistent she be taken care of, he visited her every day," said David Kay. "The main problem was she really wanted to be with Bill"
They continued what had been a 63-year loving relationship, described by the family as a "real love story".
The Millers would have dinner together, watch movies at night and eventually would have intimate relations in the dementia unit -- which is against the policy of Casa de las Campanas.
When a staff member and a patient discovered what was going on, they filed a complaint with Adult Protective Services accusing Bill Miller of abuse.
The Millers were patients of Dr. Gabriela Berggren, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Scott Riedler, a neurologist. They were adamant the institution had made a mistake in accusing Miller of abusive conduct.
Riedler stated, "I have separately interviewed the patient and her husband. In my professional judgment Ms. Miller is competent to decide whether or not she wants to have sexual relations with her husband. Mr. and Mrs. Miller should be allowed to have private times together, including intimacy, and that to not allow this would be inhumane."
Dr. Berggren also stated, "I am very surprised by these allegations. In the two years I have known Mr. and Mrs. Miller, they have demonstrated respect, high regard and care for each other."
The county ombudsman eventually determined the complaint was not valid and the complaint was dropped.
Casa tried to work with the Millers, saying they'd allow the Millers their private time if Bill Miller agreed to move into the closed dementia unit with his wife. Miller moved in, but things went wrong very quickly.
Bill Miller has Parkinson's disease and takes medication. The family says the stress of living in a sealed unit with an Alzheimer's disease patient all day, everyday, along with the medication led to some bizarre changes in his behavior.
In a March 7, 2013 memo sent to Miller, Casa de las Campanas detailed allegations of the serious behavior issues he had exhibited and sent him an eviction letter.
Claudia Kay searched the Internet and came up with what she says is proof it was the stress and medications that led to her father's behavior. She provided us the links she used.
-Psychology Today – Dopamine Primer
-NBCNews.com – Popular Parkinson's drug linked to gambling
Miller was taken off the drugs and returned to his residence, leaving the dementia ward. The family tells us his behavior has returned to normal.
While Casa de las Campanas admits Miller has improved, they believe he still remains a threat to himself and the community. They took his eviction case to trial and won. Now, they want him out of the community. The facility has a legitimate concern, it's attorney, James Napoli, a San Fransico based attorney. Napoli says Casa de las Campanas is paying to have a staff member escort Miller whenever he leaves his residence.
The Millers signed a continuing care contract with Casa de las Campanas. These contracts are set up so the residents don't actually own the property, but they own the ability to live on the property and there is a promise to take care of the residents for the rest of their lives.
Even though the Millers signed a continuing care agreement with Casa de las Campanas for $350,000, Bill Miller can be evicted, according to the contract, "upon showing of good and sufficient cause."
The family has been aggressive in trying to keep him in his residence.
The family has filed an appeal, which will be heard in the coming week. The judge can overturn the jury verdict or let the eviction proceed.
It's a "most unusual case," said San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil, who presided over the jury trial, so unusual that it's been at least 20 years since a continuing care senior has been evicted, if ever.
Wohlfeil will be hearing the family's appeal.
The attorneys for the family will be arguing that a number of keys pieces of evidence were not allowed to be heard by the jury.
Napoli said the jury has already decided that Miller has to go. He got a fair trail and it's time for everyone to move on.
Kim Dominy, executive director of Casa de las Campanas, sent the following statement in response to this story:
San Diego’s Casa de las Campanas is a continuing care community that provides housing and services to approximately 600 senior residents in independent living, assisted living and memory care, as well as skilled nursing.
Casa de las Campanas is responsible for the health and safety of its residents, community and staff. The jury ruled that the defendant’s behavior was a threat to the physical and mental wellbeing to others. Our top priorities are the safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff. We are satisfied with the jury’s verdict and hope to resolve this matter.
*NOTE: Medical records and personal documents relating to this story were provided with the permission of Claudia and David Kay. All other records are public in nature.
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