Keryn Redstone, one of media mogul Sumner Redstone’s granddaughters, says she will side with the Viacom board against her aunt Shari Redstone in the battle over his media empire.
She accuses Shari Redstone of being able to “effectively kidnap, brainwash and take advantage of [her] grandfather due to his debilitated state of mind and frail health” in order to control his assets
The Viacom board has accused Shari Redstone of having an “undue influence” over Sumner Redstone as he moves towards replacing Viacom’s directors and management, including CEO Philippe Dauman.
A suit by Dauman and another Viacom director, George Abrams, charging that a move to remove them as trustees of Sumner Redstone’s trust, which holds a controlling interest in the company that owns 80% of the voting rights for Viacom and CBS, will be heard next week in a Massachusetts court.
On Wednesday, Karyn Redstone rejoined the fray, issuing a statement that says that Sumner Redstone’s health has deteriorated and that he has been incompetent since October.
“The last time that I saw my grandfather was on Valentine’s Day for fifteen minutes. As he sat there lifeless and flanked by his nurses and caretakers, he seemed unaware of his surroundings. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life,” she said.
Karyn Redstone also said that Shari Redstone orchestrated the removal of Manuela Herzer as her grandfather’s companion and overseer of his health care and has kept the Viacom board from communicating with him.
"Because I was in the house, I know that my grandfather has been incompetent since last October. This is why Shari is keeping me away, because I will not lie or conceal the truth about my grandfather’s condition. I love my grandfather, and I cry myself to sleep every night knowing that I might never see him again,” she said.
Karyn Redstone has hired the same lawyers who represented Herzer in her unsuccessful suit to have Sumner Redstone declared incompetent to make health care and financial decisions.
“I do not intend to let Shari get away with this outrage,” she added. “I will soon be announcing legal steps to join with the Viacom directors in our common cause to liberate my grandfather from Shari’s clutches and protect my fellow trust beneficiaries and myself from her machinations.”
Here is the full text of the statement:
Statement by Pierce O’Donnell Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP Attorney for Keryn Redstone June 1, 2016
Keryn Redstone Expresses Solidarity With Viacom Directors
We are honored to announce that we represent Keryn Redstone, Sumner Redstone’s beloved granddaughter. Keryn has asked us to make the following statement on her behalf:
I want to express my support for the Viacom directors who have tried to meet with my grandfather but have been denied access by Shari Redstone, not my grandfather. There is no way that a competent Sumner Redstone, acting of his own free will, would ever refuse to meet with his fellow directors who have been his close friends and allies and so loyal to him over many years.
Manuela Herzer and I have also been prevented by Shari from seeing my grandfather. We are two of the persons who were the most devoted to his welfare and protecting him.
Shari and her family have managed to totally isolate and effectively kidnap, brainwash, and take advantage of my grandfather due to his debilitated state of mind and frail health. They have lied to him about Manuela Herzer, the loyalty of his long-time friends like Philippe Dauman and George Abrams, and me. So far, Shari and her three adult children have succeeded in reversing decades of my grandfather’s careful estate planning and are poised to seize control of Viacom and CBS.
My grandfather (whom I affectionately call “Grumpy”) and I have had a very close and loving relationship ever since I was a little girl. Last September, when his health started rapidly failing, my grandfather and Manuela asked me to move into his house to help with his healthcare needs. Without hesitation, I moved from Colorado to Los Angeles.
Sadly, in mid-September, I noticed that my grandfather’s mental health was deteriorating. I witnessed with dismay his utter dependency on his nurses, especially Jeremy Jagiello. This made me very worried because my grandfather had never depended on anyone.
The grandfather whom I knew and loved so much was gone. He could barely communicate at all, and he was unable to appreciate and understand what was going on around him.
Manuela was the person closest to my grandfather in the world. Shari set Manuela up and had her ejected from my grandfather’s home last October when my grandfather was not able to communicate intelligibly or understand what was going on around him. Shari’s removal of Manuela from my grandfather’s life is a perfect example of her disregard for what is in his best interests.
With Manuela no longer there to protect my grandfather, Shari took charge of his health care and everything else in his life. I witnessed Shari yelling at him and treating him like a child. My grandfather sobbed uncontrollably, telling me over and over again, “I miss Manuela.” It was unbearable to watch him suffer so needlessly. I knew that I had to do something about this.
For as long as I can remember, my grandfather had done everything that he could possibly think of to prevent Shari from having any type of control or power over his companies, whether public or private. This was no secret to anyone. I can assure you that Shari is the last person on the planet to whom my grandfather would entrust his healthcare if he were of sound mind. I am therefore heartbroken and devastated to see this tragic turn of events in my grandfather’s life. Not to put words in his mouth, but what his happening now would be his worst nightmare if he had even the slightest mental capacity or understanding of what Shari was doing to him.
The last time that I saw my grandfather was on Valentine’s Day for fifteen minutes. As he sat there lifeless and flanked by his nurses and caretakers, he seemed unaware of his surroundings. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.
I quietly sobbed as I held his cold hand before they made me leave and never let me return, despite all my unanswered emails, text messages, and voice messages to his home, lawyers, personal secretary, and doctors as well as Shari. My experience is the same as the Viacom directors—Shari will not let us see Sumner. Because I was in the house, I know that my grandfather has been incompetent since last October. This is why Shari is keeping me away, because I will not lie or conceal the truth about my grandfather’s condition. I love my grandfather, and I cry myself to sleep every night knowing that I might never see him again.
I do not intend to let Shari get away with this outrage. I will soon be announcing legal steps to join with the Viacom directors in our common cause to liberate my grandfather from Shari’s clutches and protect my fellow trust beneficiaries and myself from her machinations.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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