US judge rules in favor of Legion of Christ in contested will, but details money tactics
But 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 over control of her finances as she became more deeply involved in the movement.
Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion in 2010 after a Vatican investigation determined that its founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, lived a double life: he sexually molested seminarians and fathered three children by two women. The pope ordered a wholesale reform of the order after finding serious problems with its very culture, and named a papal delegate to oversee it.
The Maciel scandal has been particularly damaging for the church given that the Mexican-born priest was held up by Pope John Paul II as a model for the faithful, admired for his perceived orthodoxy and ability to bring in money and new seminarians.
It was that high esteem that attracted Mee, a devout Roman Catholic, to the Legion in the first place, Silverstein wrote in his Sept. 7 order throwing out a lawsuit filed by Mee’s niece contesting her will.
The niece, Mary Lou Dauray, had alleged that Mee was defrauded by the Legion and unduly influenced by its priests into giving away her fortune. Mee’s late husband was a one-time director of Fleet National Bank.
Silverstein, however, ruled that Dauray had no standing in the case. Dauray’s attorney, Bernard Jackvony, said his client was considering an appeal.
While siding with the Legion in the case, Silverstein took pains in his 39-page ruling to cite evidence submitted by Dauray’s attorneys that detailed the process by which the Legion wooed Mee, bending the rules to let her become a “consecrated” member of its lay movement, giving her privileged access to Maciel and inviting her on special trips to Rome and Mexico. [More]