PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Connecticut man has sued the Legion of Christ, accusing the disgraced Roman Catholic order of using “predatory” means to persuade his ailing father to hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Paul Chu’s lawsuit alleges that the order used “undue influence” to persuade his father, a retired Yale University engineering professor, to make the Legion the beneficiary of his retirement funds. Paul Chu’s lawsuit seeks the return of the more than $1 million he donated and $10 million in punitive damages.
The suit says James Boa-Teh Chu was in declining health when Legion representatives visited his East Providence home to “coerce” him into changing his retirement beneficiaries. Chu lacked the capacity to make decisions about the distribution of his assets and would not have made the Legion his beneficiary if he knew about allegations facing its founder, the lawsuit said.
The elder Chu, who was born in China in 1924, served on the Brown University faculty before working at Yale. He died in 2009. Paul Chu, of Meriden, Conn., is the executor of his father’s estate.
The Vatican took over the Legion in 2010 after determining that its late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, had sexually molested seminarians and fathered three children by two women.
Legion spokesman Jim Fair denied the allegations in the lawsuit and said the order doesn’t pressures anyone to make a contribution.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Rhode Island on Nov. 9, describes the elder Chu as a devout Catholic who made annual donations to the Legion beginning in the 1990s. Paul Chu’s attorney, John J. Flanagan, said his client is as loyal to the Catholic church as his father was.