Lawsuit Against Legionaries of Christ Dismissed by R.I. Superior Court Judge
The transfer of millions of dollars worth of assets — through will, trust, and gifts — from a steadfastly spiritual, elderly woman to her trusted but clandestinely dubious spiritual leaders raises a red flag to this Court,?
Jason Berry has written an article in the National Catholic Reporter regarding the recent lawsuit initiated against the Legion and other defendants by Mary Lou Dauray, the niece of Mrs. Gabrielle Mee. Click Here to see the NCR article .
The late Gabrielle Mee, a very rich widow, who in her senior years in the 1990’s became a consecrated member of Regnum Christi donated millions of dollars to the Legionaries of Christ and had willed most of her estate to the Legion. Mrs. Mee died in May, 2008 at the age of 96. Her niece, Mary Lou Dauray had claimed that her aunt, who was a lonely, deeply religious older woman, had been taken advantage of.
The judge ruled that Ms. Dauray lacked the legal standing to sue the Legion in this case. However, the judge recognized that there was significant evidence of undue influence and fraud. According to Jason Berry, Mrs. Mee revised her will in 1991, giving 90 percent of her assets to the Legionaries. Reportedly, Fr. Marcial Maciel, the Legionary founder was giving Mrs. Mee advice on her financial investments and she gave Legionary priest, Father Bannon her power of attorney and in 2000 appointed him executor of her estate.
According to the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), Click Here for ICSA documents during her final 17 years she spent with Regnum Christi, Mrs. Mee was kept in the dark regarding any of the negative information about the Legion or its founder. Whenever visitors came to visit Mrs. Mee, they were not left alone with her; one or more Regnum Christi would remain present and would ensure that the topic of conversation would change if there was any attempt to discuss Legion scandals or other negative information.
According to the ICSA report, Mrs. Mee steadily turned over real estate and money
upwards of $7.5 million to the Legionaries of Christ, while she was alive and most of her estate somewhere in the order of 60 million dollars.
According to another account of Mrs. Mee’s situation, Nicole Winfield of Associated Press, Click Here for A.P. article
Judge Michael Silverstein of Rhode Island Superior Court found evidence that the woman, Gabrielle Mee, had been unduly persuaded to change her trusts and will and give the Legion her money, detailing the process by which the Legion slowly took control of her finances as she became more deeply involved in the movement
Father Maciel was known to be a person whose life was
devoid of scruple and of genuine religious sentiment and it is not surprising to those who are familiar with his life that such a person would take advantage of a wealthy and devout widow. This disturbing case involved other Legion leaders including Father Bannon, who began
cultivating Mrs. Mee after Father Maciel met her in 1991.
This was not a simple case of the unscrupulous Legion and Regnum Christi founder, Father Maciel acting in isolation to bilk a rich widow out of her fortune. Other Legionary and Regnum Christi leaders were involved in shielding Mrs. Mee from the truth about Father Maciel, whom she idolized and from other negative information about the Legion.
The Church has decided to leave the old guard Legion leadership in place and has chosen to avoid further investigation to discover who among them was complicit in the founder’s secret life. Now that a Superior Court judge has found evidence of undue persuasion involving millions of dollars, perhaps the Church will reconsider its decisions.