Court Petitioned to Unseal Legion Documents

Article excerpt

Questions about the multimillion-dollar estate a Rhode Island widow left to the Legion of Christ remain open in state Superior Court as the woman's niece contemplates an appeal and media organizations--including NCR--petitioned the court to unseal documents in the case.

The case (NCR, Sept. 28-Oct. 10) involves the $60 million estate of Gabrielle Mee, who died in 2008. Shortly after, her niece, Mary Lou Dauray, sought to revoke the will and retrieve the assets on grounds that the Legion deceived her late aunt.

In a Sept. 7 summary judgment, Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein ruled that Dauray, who intended to apply any recovered funds to charities consistent with her aunt's religious beliefs, did not have legal standing to sue because she had no direct material interest in the outcome.

Dauray's attorney, Bernard Jackvony, told NCR in September that she was considering an appeal; to date, none has been filed.

Last year, the Legion drew $2.19 million from the $28 million Timothy J. Mee Charitable Trust, established by Mee's late husband, according to the 990 form the trust filed as a private foundation with the IRS.

The trust's $28.27 million net value is slightly less than half of the $60 million at issue in Dauray's lawsuit against the Legion, Legion of Christ Fr. Anthony Bannon and Bank of America, which manages the Timothy Mee trust with the Legion.

Silverstein's order, citing extensive information from discovery documents unavailable to the public, opens a window on the Legion's secretive finances. In November 1991, the widow joined the Legion's lay movement, Regnum Christi, and gave $3 million to the Legion. "Father [Marcial] Maciel wrote to Mrs. Mee," the judge wrote, "and encouraged her to submit a monthly budget to Fathers Bannon and [Jose] Alonso in order to fulfill her promise of poverty as a consecrated woman in Regnum Christi."

A 1999 amendment to the Gabrielle D. Mee Charitable Trust specified that the bank, as trustee, should invest only in companies and businesses whose products were "consistent with Catholic moral teaching and in accordance with the investment guidelines of the Legion of Christ, Inc," and that "no assets of the Trust be invested in companies in the liquor industry, health care or pharmaceutical companies that perform abortions or develop artificial contraceptives."

But the Timothy Mee trust 990 form reveals investments in several companies that would violate the amendment: beer brewers Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Heineken NV and Molson Coors, and Bristol Myers Squibb, which sponsored a 2010 clinical trial for an oral contraceptive, according to the National Institutes of Health. …