The niece of a woman who gave more than $60 million to a now-disgraced Catholic order is asking the Rhode Island Supreme Court to let her sue so the money can go somewhere more deserving.
The court is due to hear arguments Tuesday over lawsuits brought by Mary Lou Dauray against the Legion of Christ, whose founder secretly molested seminarians and fathered three children. Dauray's aunt, Gabrielle Mee, died in 2008 and left everything she owned to the Legion.
A Superior Court judge ruled in 2012 that Douray did not have standing to sue and threw out her lawsuits against the Legion of Christ and Bank of America, which Douray claimed breached its fiduciary duty as the trustee of Mee's estate.
When Judge Michael Silverstein issued that decision, however, he wrote there was evidence that the Legion had exerted undue influence on the widow.
The Legion was founded in 1941 by the late Rev. Marcial Maciel. Documents show Vatican officials knew about his abuse for decades but looked the other way as the conservative order brought in money and vocations. The Vatican took over the Legion in 2010 and launched a reform process which culminated this year with the election of a new government and approval of constitutions.
But priests and followers continue to leave the movement. The Legion announced in October that the college it owned in Smithfield, where Mee once lived as a consecrated member of its lay movement, would close next year.