HAMILTON – Darlene Bishop, television evangelist and co-pastor of the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, has won a bitter court feud involving the estate of her brother, songwriter Darrell “Wayne” Perry.
Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers ruled Bishop may remain as executor of Perry’s estate, despite allegations by Perry’s children that she had mishandled it. The children’s claims included that Bishop improperly received $260,000 from a life insurance policy and that a collection of their father’s works had disappeared under her watch.
In his decision, though, Rogers ruled there was no evidence to support the allegations. He said the insurance policy was rightfully Bishop’s and that other details of the estate had been handled properly.
“She’s gotten all this publicity about the allegations of her improperly taking money, and none of it is true,” said Bishop’s attorney, Neil Freund. “She hasn’t gotten a dime from the trust so far. She did not financially benefit from it.”
Perry, 55, formerly of Hamilton, died of throat cancer in 2005. He wrote chart-topping songs for artists including Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, the Backstreet Boys, Lorrie Morgan and Holly Dunn.
The children estimated Perry’s estate was worth about $750,000 before debts but were told it was nearly broke.
They blamed Bishop, whose non-denominational church is home to a 4,000-member congregation and a giant Jesus statue along Interstate 75.
But Freund said the estate was worth only a fraction of what the children believed. The children, Bryan, 36, of Fort Lewis, Wash.; Justin, 28, and Nicole, 25, both of Middletown; and Christian, 11, of Proctorville, Ohio, will begin receiving annual payments from the trust once the case is closed.
Bryan Perry, who has been spokesman for the children, could not be reached Wednesday.
“I’m just relieved and thankful this part of it is over,” she said.
Bishop’s attorneys hope the ruling will prompt the children to withdraw a separate wrongful-death lawsuit they filed against the evangelist in Butler County Common Pleas Court. That case, set for a hearing in April, claims Bishop denied medical treatment to her brother because of her religious beliefs.
“But I know I’ll be vindicated with that, too,” Bishop said.