The only child of “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols is countersuing his mother’s former manager, accusing him of bilking assets from her appearance fees, pension, Social Security and her Woodland Hills home.
The countersuit was brought on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Kyle Johnson against 81-year-old Gilbert Bell, alleging elder abuse, negligence and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Johnson seeks unspecified damages and a court order preventing Bell from having contact with Nichols, from occupying her premises and from profiting from her image or likeness.
Bell’s attorney, William D. Bowen, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The 87-year-old Nichols played Lt. Uhura, a translator and communications officer, aboard the USS Enterprise in the “Star Trek” series that ran on NBC from 1966-69, and also appeared in some of the later “Star Trek” movies.
Johnson, 68, is his mother’s full-time caregiver and the conservator of her person and estate. He seeks to “hold those responsible to account, ensure his mother’s financial stability, health and comfort, recover what has been stolen from her and ensure a safe, secure and enjoyable future in the coming years,” according to his court papers.
The countersuit accuses Bell of “consistent … and callous conduct,” alleging he “took advantage of a highly respected woman when she was vulnerable” and continued to do so as her health declined. A judge previously found that Nichols suffers from dementia.
The countersuit alleges that in 2012, Bell temporarily moved into a second house on Nichols’ property and continues to live there under a fraudulent lease and a succeeding invalid reverse mortgage.
Johnson alleges Bell exerted influence and assumed control over Nichols’ assets and personal life by telling the actress lies, fabricating documents and establishing legal entities controlled by Bell in order to profit from her personal affairs.
The countersuit comes 13 months after Bell sued Johnson, alleging he is wrongfully trying to remove both Bell and Nichols from their current homes so that he can sell the property.
The allegations in Bell’s suit include assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, denial of utility services, elder abuse and breach of contract. The complaint seeks unspecified damages.
Bell became Nichols’ manager in 2009 and she insisted he move into the guesthouse on the same property as her Woodland Hills home, according to his suit, which says his monthly rent was $300. Bell often prepared dinner for both of them and they celebrated birthdays together, the suit says.
Bell alleges that since Johnson moved in with his mother, he has fired her caregiver, her personal assistant and her accountant while also isolating the actress from her friends.
Johnson also wants to have her and Bell removed from the property so it can be sold, and wants to put his mother in assisted living despite her objections, the suit alleges.
In early 2018, Johnson stopped paying utility bills on the property, the Bell suit states.
“Mr. Bell lives in constant fear that his utilities will be shut off and he will no longer have a habitable place to live,” the suit says.
Although on a fixed income of $800 a month, Bell still pays his rent and has had to pay for house repairs on his own, according to his court papers.
Bell was hospitalized in 2019 for high blood pressure, chest pains and stress caused by Johnson’s intimidating behavior, which has included a threat to kill him while holding Nichols’ cane, the suit alleges.