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Casey Kasem’s sordid family drama: Is Kerri’s involvement in Scientology relevant?

Casey_KasemOver the years, we’ve been pretty good at staying away from family law stories. Why? Because in family court, everyone lies. The stakes are just too high. It makes reporting on such cases mostly an exercise in futility.

For that reason, we’ve been loathe to write anything about the sad custody battle over Casey Kasem, 82, the golden-voiced American Top 40 deejay who retired in 2009 and now suffers from a common form of dementia that has left him unable to speak.

You no doubt have heard that a battle has broken out between Kasem’s wife of 34 years, Jean, and the children of Kasem’s first marriage, most prominently his daughter Kerri Kasem.

The two sides have been fighting for years, but things really exploded when Jean moved her husband to a house in Washington from a care facility in Santa Monica without telling Kerri or her siblings. By that time, Kerri had convinced a Los Angeles County judge to give her temporary conservatorship of her father.

She then took possession of her dad after he was located at a house near Seattle, and Jean went ballistic. More legal squabbling is sure to follow. Kasem himself is apparently in bad shape, and he may not be around much longer.

Many of our readers have been asking us to look into this dispute because Jean made the accusation that Kerri is only interested in getting control of her father’s estate because she wants to donate it to the Church of Scientology. Kerri herself has denied that she’s involved in Scientology after briefly looking into it. At least one media outlet said it was ridiculous that Scientology was even mentioned.


We mostly feel sorry that Casey’s last days are being spent in the middle of this ugly fight, and we don’t envy the judges who may end up having to figure out what to do in this case.

But there is one thing we did want to take a closer look at: Is Kerri Kasem a Scientologist or not?

At first glance, Kerri’s involvement in Scientology appears to be minimal. Many people have noted that she has only two entries in an online database that keeps track of Scientology “completions.” While it isn’t comprehensive, Kristi Wachter’s database keeps track of the people who are named in the church’s own publications when they finish a course or make a large donation. In Kerri’s case, Wachter’s database indicates that her name appeared in two 2011 editions of Scientology’s Freewinds magazine for completing a course on The Way to Happiness. (It’s not clear if she took the course twice, or if she took it once and it was mentioned in two separate issues of the magazine.)

What can we conclude from that? Not much. Kerri might only be dabbling in Scientology, and accepted an invitation to spend some time on the Freewinds cruise ship to learn about L. Ron Hubbard’s slim volume of life advice, The Way to Happiness.

Or, she might be more involved and Wachter’s database hasn’t caught up to her yet. The database tends to be thin for recent years. So what else do we know about her?

Kerri has taken after her father by working in radio, and she also produced a podcast for several years that she has archived at a website. Much of it is happy talk about quack health advice — Kerri is apparently an anti-vaxxer, for example — but we did find a few shows that were significant. In 2009, her father was in the studio, and if you skip to the 20-minute mark, you can hear him talk at some length about his own start in radio. It’s moving to hear him talk about his past, and to hear how his voice has already deteriorated by that time. But it’s also clear that he was part of a loving family, that, apparently, is rabid about gambling. Who knew.

For our purposes, we found a couple of shows interesting. In 2010 and then in 2012, Kerri had on a man who has increasingly become one of the most prominent (and clownish) faces in Scientology, sales guru and motivational speaker Grant Cardone.

Cardone’s visit to the studio was also captured in a short video. Prepare to be smarmed to death…


While Kerri’s ongoing friendship with Cardone doesn’t prove anything specific about Scientology, it suggested to us that she may have been more involved than she’s now letting on.

So we turned to one of our best inside sources at the church. This particular source has been dead-on before, helping us out on our stories about Vivian Kubrick, for example, and also with event reports that were proved to be one hundred percent accurate. This source has extensive knowledge about the Celebrity Centre, and we thought he might know something about Kerri Kasem. So we asked him: Is she an active member or not? Here’s what he sent us:

I’ve definitely run into her. She is in Scientology. She is at the Celebrity Centre all the time. I have seen her at events. I’ve seen her sing — and she is a very good singer. Many of her friends are Scientologists. She is full blown, but I think very discreet regarding her involvement. From what I gather Kerri has been close to her dad. I’m sure she is genuinely concerned for him. So to reiterate. She is in, no question about it.

We have to admit, we were surprised to get such a strong statement from our source.

And then we have to say, so what? Kerri may very well be deeply involved in Scientology. But it was also pretty clear to us after listening to her 2009 podcast that she was close to her father, and nothing she’s done since then has suggested she’s motivated by anything other than what’s best for him.

We only hope the courts and both sides of the family can work out something to make sure Casey’s final days are as comfortable as possible. After that, there will no doubt be a wicked fight over his money. And frankly, we don’t care enough about either side to worry about how it comes out.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 9, 2014 at 07:00

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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

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