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CUT, children settle Prophet guardianship

Billings Gazette/April 14, 1999

LIVINGSTON - A six-month battle over who should serve as guardian of the ailing spiritual leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant has ended in a settlement calling for shared responsibility.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet announced last fall that she suffered from Alzheimer's disease. She is a former president of the church and plans to step down as its spiritual leader this summer.

Church Vice President Murray Steinman filed court documents asking to be appointed Prophet's legal guardian to handle her financial and legal affairs.

But two of the adult Prophet children - Erin and Sean - challenged the petition, arguing that Steinman has a conflict of interest because he is also a church official.

A hearing on the dispute was closed, as is the court file. But in a joint statement Steinman and Erin Prophet said the parties had reached an amicable settlement calling for shared responsibility.

They said they would serve as co-limited guardians, and David Kravitz, a longtime personal friend of Prophet, will serve as her conservator. Further details were not available because of the sealed file.

"We believe that this arrangement will enable us to work together cooperatively to serve Elizabeth's interests and to make her life as rich and rewarding as possible," the statement said.

A spokesman for the church, which was listed as an interested observer, said Tuesday it is happy that the court case has been settled.

"It sounds like a winning team," church spokesman Christopher Kelley said.

Although the church was never directly involved in the case, the church is "real happy that the people involved were able to resolve it in Elizabeth's best interest," Kelley said.

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