Lawyers in Providence, R.I. are contesting the will of a widow who left $60 million to a disgraced Catholic order. They are currently filing court papers, in an attempt to have their case heard so the woman’s niece can sue.
Gabrielle Mee, a devout Catholic, who died in 2008, gave most of her money to the conservative religious order the Legion of Christ. Her niece, Mary Lou Dauray is now arguing for the right to intervene in the estate of her late aunt, and filed papers on Wednesday with the Rhode Island Supreme Court, according to WCVB.com.
Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein threw out Dauray’s lawsuit last year, stating she had no standing to sue, but also said evidence existed that Mee was unduly persuaded to give her money to the Legion, and detailed how they slowly took control of her finances as she became more and more involved with the movement. He said that some red flags were raised as Mee had transferred millions to what he described as “clandestinely dubious religious leaders.”
Dauray’s lawyers are claiming that Mee was defrauded by the order. A church investigation determined that the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, who was the legion’s founder, had sexually molested seminarians and fathered three children. Duaray’s lawyers said the order made an orchestrated attempt to hide these findings from Ms. Mee. The Vatican took over the order in 2010 and Pope Benedict XVI ordered a wholesale reform.
Lawyer’s are arguing that Mee’s will was obtained by fraud and undue influence by the legion, and insist that Dauray is legally interested in Mee’s estate.
Silverstein said that it was his opinion in part that Duaray disavowed her interest after she claimed during a deposition that she herself did not want anything from Mee’s estate, but instead wanted to give the money to charity. Her lawyer’s are argue that these comments should not have been taking as thus.
The legion must file a response by early August with the court, however according to their spokesman Jim Fair they expect to prevail, but have not yet studied the filing.