Chuck Smith Family Spat Over Calvary Chapel Control Goes to a Higher Power (OC Courts)

A daughter of the late Chuck Smith is suing the husband of another of the Calvary Church Costa Mesa founder's daughters who is alleged to have inflicted neglect and elder abuse as "Pastor Chuck" was dying of terminal lung cancer last year.

Janette Manderson says she filed the lawsuit on behalf of 87-year-old Kay Smith, who suffers from dementia and is Manderson's mother and the wife of the deceased leader of the born-again Christian megachurch in Santa Ana. The alleged evildoer, according to the complaint, is Brian Brodersen, who is married to the Smiths' youngest daughter, Cheryl. But the suit also demonizes the board of the non-profit The Word For Today ministry, which is accused of callously taking over the office, computers and worldwide ministry of Smith immediately after he died on Oct. 3, 2013. Brodersen chairs that board.

Chuck Smith, Legendary Founder of Calvary Chapel, Passes Away From Cancer

"It's still a shock. It's almost a year later and still I can't really process it. Why didn't they help my dad?" Manderson recently told KABC Eyewitness News. The suit by Manderson, who was in charge of her father's care at the end, alleges a twisted hastening of Smith's death while she was out of town. She claims no one told her of her father's impending death.

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"Nobody had called 911 until my nephew finally stepped in and did it," she told KABC. "The nurse wouldn't do it and told him not to call 911." Jillyn Hess-Verdon, Kay Smith's attorney, added, "The son-in-law, Brian, is the one who oversaw the selection of the nurse and she's directly under his supervision, and from what we know he's the one that she contacted for instructions. The evidence we have, the paramedics got there and said 'Why haven't you people called 911?'"

Hess-Verdon further claims his client was "cut off" from the church after Chuck Smith died, including the loss of a $1 million life insurance policy and a $10,000 monthly annuity the attorney claims was in exchange for the pastor taking himself off the church payroll years before. Manderson further alleges that Chuck Smith was years before pressured to turn church control over to The Word For Today board of directors, which she claims "is holding on to everything of dad's and not giving it to us."

Roger Wing, speaking for Brodersen and the board he chairs, refused to address specifics of the lawsuit but did tell KABC, "Everything we did, we did according to the law and according to stipulations given ... what Pastor Chuck and the board had worked out."

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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