Tomi Rae Brown on Dec. 25, outside James Brown's Beech Island, S.C., house
Rainier Ehrhardt/Augusta Chronicle/Polaris
12/26/2006 AT 11:30 AM EST
The mother of James Brown's 5-year-old son has been locked out of his South Carolina home – because she and the late singer were never legally married, his lawyer says.
"It's not a reflection on her as an individual," lawyer Buddy Dallas told the Associated Press of Tomi Rae Brown. "I have not even been in the house, nor will I until appropriate protocol is followed."
James Brown died of heart failure
on Christmas Day at Atlanta's Emory Crawford Long Hospital. He was 73.
Tomi Rae Brown, 37, who was one of the singer's backup dancers, told the Augusta Chronicle
on Monday that she was at a retreat when James died and that when she returned home, security guards informed her that Dallas and accountant David Cannon had barred her from the house.
Speaking outside the residence, Brown said she did not own the deed to the property but had a legal right to live there. "This is my home. I don't have any money. I don't have anywhere to go," she said.
"The last thing he said to me was, 'I love you baby and I'll see you soon,' " Brown said of the Godfather of Soul.
But Dallas, the lawyer, says Brown has no right to live in the home because she and James Brown were never married. They held a wedding in 2001, but it was later discovered that she was already married to a Texas man at the time. Although that previous marriage was later annulled, she and the singer never legally wed.
"I suppose it would mean she was, from time to time, a guest in Mr. Brown's home," Dallas said, adding that James Brown's estate was left in trust for his children and that Tomi Rae Brown has another residence.
The Browns had long had a tumultuous relationship. In 2004, James Brown pleaded guilty
to a domestic violence charge after being accused of pushing Tomi Rae Brown to the floor and threatening to kill her. He was fined $1,388.