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Court hears arguments on wealthy widow’s donations to Legionaries

November 06, 2012

A Rhode Island judge heard arguments on November 5 in a lawsuit brought by several media outlets seeking public release of documents related to a widow’s contributions to the Legion of Christ.

Gabrielle Mee, who died in 2008, had given over $60 million to the Legionaries. A niece challenged Mee’s will, charging that the elderly woman had been manipulated by members of the order—which has been under scrutiny since it was revealed that its founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel, had led a double life. A Rhode Island judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying that the niece lacked legal standing, but acknowledged that the circumstances of the widow’s gift “raises a red flag.”

The court is now considering a plea from several media groups—including the New York Times, Associated Press, Providence Journal, and National Catholic Reporter--for disclosure of the documents pertaining to the original lawsuit. The Legion has opposed release of the documents.

Judge Michael Silverstein heard arguments on the case without saying when he would issue a ruling.


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