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Disgraced Catholic Order at Center of Estate Controversy, Torrance, CA

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Rhode Island resident Gabrielle Mee was very wealthy and a very devout Catholic. It is clear that she wanted to leave at least part of her estate to support Catholic causes and organizations. In 1993 she had a will drawn up that would have left 10% of her estate to Americans United for Life. However, in 2000, a new will was drafted that left all of her estate to the Legion of Christ, a Catholic religious order.

The Providence Journal reported this story in "New suit filed over woman's bequest to Legion of Christ."

There is a problem with the bequest to the Legion of Christ. In the late 1990s the order's founder was accused of molesting male seminarians and fathering at least two children by different mothers. Had Mee known about these accusations she might not have left her estate to the order as she was well-known for directing that none of her money be invested in any company that questioned Catholic values.

After Mee passed away, the Legion of Christ's founder was censured by the Pope. Americans for Life filed a lawsuit for a share of the estate based on the 1993 will. The probate judge dismissed the suit stating that it was not filed in the proper time.

The group is now seeking district court review.

In a previous case filed by Mee's niece the court found evidence of undue influence and fraud, but dismissed the case as the niece did not have standing to sue. Another case was previously settled out of court.

Reference: Providence Journal (May 17, 2016) "New suit filed over woman's bequest to Legion of Christ."

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