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December 08, 2014

$60-Million Bequest to Disgraced Catholic Order Challenged

The niece of a Rhode Island woman who left $60-million to the Legion of Christ, a Catholic order whose late founder molested seminarians for decades, is asking the state's Supreme Court to let her sue to reclaim the funds, the Associated Press reports.

The Legion's longtime leader, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, died in 2008, the same year Gabrielle Mee died and left her entire estate to the order. Mary Lou Dauray contends her aunt would not have wanted her estate to go to the Legion given its history and says that if she wins in court she will donate the money to other charities.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether the suit against the Legion and Bank of America, the trustee of Ms. Mee's estate, can proceed. A lower-court judge threw out the case in 2012, ruling that Ms. Dauray did not have standing to sue. In the wake of the Maciel scandal, the Vatican, which had long kept the abuse under wraps, took over and reformed the order.