By PAUL PAYNE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Guerneville man suing Sonoma County for separating him from his partner and selling their possessions had attacked the other man and at one point threatened to kill him, according to the sheriff’s department report of the 2008 incident released Wednesday.
But no charges were brought against Clay Greene, 78, accused of attacking Harold Scull, 88, because prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence. Greene has repeatedly denied the allegations of abuse and Scull at the time was unwilling to pursue charges.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s a closed matter,” Diana Gomez, assistant district attorney, said. “We rejected it two years ago.”
That opinion in the criminal case could chip away at the underpinnings of the county’s response to a lawsuit filed by Greene that is drawing national and international attention and has become a cause célèbre in the gay community.
County officials were flooded Wednesday by e-mails from around the world decrying what has been viewed as discrimination and a trampling of rights because of the men’s sexual orientation.
Gregory Spaulding, lawyer for the county, said an Internet letter-writing campaign has filled the in-boxes of elected officials and staff members named in the multi-million dollar suit from Greene. Stories about the case appeared over the weekend on the sites of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Bilerico Project. The furor has spilled onto Facebook, with angry supporters calling for political action and boycotts of Sonoma County businesses.
Spaulding said the county on Wednesday was trying to respond to hundreds of e-mails with its own letter that explains the county’s position and tries to correct what he called misstatements about the case. He accused advocates of trying to spin the story and of litigating it “through the Internet and the press.”
“The county has been inundated with many copies of the exact same e-mail, word for word, from people who have been misinformed,” Spaulding said.
The suit accuses county social workers of elder abuse and discrimination for failing to recognize Greene’s 25-year relationship with Scull, forcing the men into separate nursing homes and selling their belongings. Before Scull died of natural causes in August 2008, Green said he was denied visitation by officials who considered the men mere roommates.
“I’m sorry the focus has been taken away from the real case,” said Greene’s attorney, Anne Dennis.
Spaulding said the allegations of abuse is the real case. Greene, he said, attacked Scull and the county stepped in to protect the elder man at his own request.
In court documents, Spaulding said Scull was admitted to Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa on April 27, 2008 as a result of domestic violence-related injuries inflicted by Greene. The case was reported to the Sheriff’s Office, adult protective services and the county’s public guardian, who all conducted investigations, he said.
Scull allegedly told officials he no longer wished to live with Greene, so he was placed in a nursing home. Greene was later deemed incapable of caring for himself and was sent to a different facility, Spaulding said.
The men were given a chance to remove possessions from their rented Sebastopol house, he said. What was left was sold at auction to cover their expenses, Spaulding said.
An investigative report from the Sheriff’s Office that had the victim’s name redacted appears to support some of the county’s claims.
On the night Scull went to the hospital, Deputy Dylan Fong said he was dispatched to check on an 88-year-old man who was admitted after an assault.
The man, who had a black eye and multiple contusions and abrasions, told Fong that his partner, Greene, had struck his face and body with closed fists and told him, “I’m gonna kill you,” the investigative report says.
Fong said he asked for more details but the man seemed confused or possibly on medication. Fong then photographed the injuries and asked the man if he wanted to press charges. The man said no.
“The victim refused and told me he just wanted to go home,” Fong wrote.
Fong said he went to Greene’s house to arrest him but Greene wasn’t there. Deputies returned five days later to ask him about the incident and Deputy District Attorney Tashawn Sanders reviewed the case.
According to a report from Deputy Dave Tait, Greene said he had a romantic relationship with the man about 10 years ago and now the two were simply living together to share expenses. He said they were drinking Vodka and orange juice on the front porch when the man tripped and fell. An ambulance was called.
Greene denied assaulting or threatening the man, Tait said. Greene reaffirmed that position in an interview this week from his Guerneville home.
In a supplemental report, a social worker told deputies Greene had been abusive to the victim and should receive alcohol or drug treatment and a psychiatric evaluation. Tara Underly said Greene refused offers for help from Adult Protective Services.