The bitter feud between the late Casey Kasem’s older children and their stepmother took center stage both inside and outside a courtroom Wednesday as a judge postponed a ruling on his widow’s bid for a greater say in the management of the radio legend’s estate.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Clifford Klein said he was delaying ruling on Jean Kasem’s petition for 90 days because her late husband’s children from his first marriage filed an opposition.
Jean Kasem, whose has a 27-year-old daughter from her 34-year marriage to Kasem, said outside the courtroom that his older children are not being forthright about their intentions.
“They say it was never about the money, yet here we are,” she said.
Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem and their uncle, Mouner, are plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit against Jean Kasem, with whom they fought over visitation with the deejay before he died. The suit also names their stepsister, Liberty Kasem, as a defendant.
Before her father’s June 2014 death at age 82 from a form of dementia and a severe bedsore, Kerri Kasem was given temporary conservatorship powers over her dad and had control of his medical care. The temporary conservatorship expired upon his death, but she was later appointed special administrator of his estate.
After his death, his widow transported her husband’s body to Norway, where he was buried in an unmarked grave despite his wishes to be buried at a cemetery in Los Angeles, the wrongful death suit alleges.
In 2017, Jean Kasem filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington state, alleging that her stepchildren conspired to seize control of their father through a “`homicidal guardianship scam.” The suit alleges that the three children, Julie’s husband and Kerri Kasem’s lawyer, Troy Martin, “chemically restrained” Casey Kasem and then caused his death so they could pursue his and Jean Kasem’s financial assets.
Allegations made by her stepchildren regarding her care of their father triggered an investigation by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which declined in May 2015 to file criminal charges against the onetime actress, who played the character of Loretta Tortelli on the NBC series “Cheers.”
Kerri Kasem’s lawyer said after the hearing that his client’s character is being attacked on a number of grounds, including her belief in Scientology. Her faith has inspired her to become a champion of humanitarian aid, Martin said, adding, “This case has noting to do with Scientology.”
Martin said the older Kasem children would like nothing more than to see their stepmother behind bars, but that the decision by the District Attorney’s Office left them with no choice but to seek relief through the civil courts, just as the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman did after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of their murders.
Casey Kasem began his “American Top 40” radio show in July 1970, signing off each time with the message, “And don’t forget: keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”
Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem were born during their father’s 1972-79 marriage to Linda Myers.
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