ATLANTA - Martin Luther King Jr.'s children are locked in yet another legal battle, this time over the civil rights icon's Nobel Peace Prize and his personal Bible.
The complaint against Bernice King was filed Friday in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta by her father's estate, which is controlled by her brothers, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King. Bernice King said in a statement Tuesday that her brothers want to sell the Bible and medal to a private buyer and that she opposes that.
It is the latest in a string of legal battles between the siblings.
King's heirs agreed in 1995 to sign over
their rights to many items they inherited from their father to the Estate of
Martin Luther King Jr. Inc., the complaint says. Bernice King has repeatedly
acknowledged the validity of that agreement, but has refused to turn over her
father's "traveling" Bible and Nobel Peace Prize medal, the complaint
"While I love my brothers dearly, this latest decision by them is extremely troubling," she said. "Not only am I appalled and utterly ashamed, I am frankly disappointed that they would even entertain the thought of selling these precious items. It reveals a desperation beyond comprehension."
The complaint filed by the estate does not mention any intention to sell the items, and the estate's lawyers did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
The estate is asking that a judge force
Bernice King to relinquish the items and to pay the estate's legal fees in the
Legal proceedings in that case are
Bernice King and Martin Luther King III sued Dexter King in 2008 to force him to open the books of their father's estate. The lawsuit claimed Dexter King, the estate's administrator, had refused to provide documents concerning the estate's operations and that he had shut them out of decisions.
The siblings avoided a public jury trial over their legal feud by agreeing to a settlement in October 2009 and a judge in March 2010 dismissed most of the remaining legal claims in the dispute between them. All three siblings said at the time that they looked forward to mending the rifts and that significant progress had been made with the settlement.