CLEARWATER — The pastor of a Clearwater church collecting donations for a 2-year-old girl maimed in a lawn mower accident said Tuesday he's "disappointed" in the way her family "attacked" the church for a delay in providing the funds.
Jerry Nugent, whose daughter, Ireland, lost both her feet in the accident in April, publicly criticized Trinity Presbyterian Church and pastor Dennis Reid on Monday for the slow transfer of money intended for his daughter's medical care and associated expenses.
The church has collected more than $120,000 in contributions since the highly publicized accident.
Ireland's maternal grandfather, Mike Del Corpo, told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday that Reid is "a control freak" who is determined to have the final word on distribution of the donations.
Reid, however, said the Nugents did not provide the church with the necessary trust documents until June 5. Trinity officials were awaiting clarification on possible legal issues regarding the funds, he said.
"I am saddened that the Nugent family has chosen to attack myself and the church that has done so much to support them," Reid told the Times via email Tuesday.
Reid, who is at a conference in Guatemala until next week, said that a few weeks ago, the Nugents hired attorney Rachel Lunsford and created two trusts for disbursement of the funds: one for Ireland's special needs and the second for her family.
Reid said the church wanted to read the trust documents and let a member of their church who is a lawyer review them.
But, Reid wrote, on Sunday night "strong accusations started appearing on the Ireland Facebook page that I manage." And on Sunday, Nugent family members and friends went to the media with "preposterous and slanderous claims" that he was trying to control the funds, he said.
At an emergency session meeting Monday night, Trinity officials voted to distribute the funds, with approximately $105,000 going to the trust exclusively for Ireland's needs, and about $15,000 to the family trust.
The Nugents received both checks Tuesday, according to Del Corpo.
"They dropped them off this morning. And as long as they've received the money, I'm satisfied," he said.
Lunsford, the trust attorney, did not return calls for comment.
Jerry Nugent did not offer a detailed response to Reid's emailed statement.
"I want to approach it from a Christian standpoint with love and forgiveness and understanding," he said, declining to elaborate further.
Matt McKinney can be reached at (7270 445-4156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.