Image by Huntley Paton via Wikimedia Commons
Image by Huntley Paton via Wikimedia Commons

A restaurateur who purchased a former convent in Los Feliz that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles prefers to sell to Katy Perry took advantage of the aging nuns who resided at the property, attorneys  for the archdiocese allege in new court papers.

The archdiocese is seeking to have the deal the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary  made with Dana Hollister nullified. Archdiocese attorneys state in court papers filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court that Hollister paid “just $44,000” of the $10 million purchase price.

“The balance of the $10 million purchase price was reflected in her $9.9 million, non-recourse promissory note that did not require her to pay anything until July 1, 2018,” the archdiocese attorneys’ court papers state.

Hollister knew the nuns were in their 70s and 80s and in “fragile financial condition,” the archiocese lawyers allege in their court papers.

“The transaction should be declared void as a product of elder abuse,” the archdiocese attorneys state in court papers filed Friday. “It appears that it was ideal for Hollister, but terrible for the sisters and the institute.”

Attorney Randy Snyder, who represents Hollister, could not be immediately reached.

The archdiocese suit, filed June 19, states Hollister is considering using the property for a boutique hotel with a restaurant and bar. According to the lawsuit, the archdiocese’s lease of the buildings for the priests’ house of prayer has a remaining term of 77 years.

“Terminating that lease cannot occur without the consent and agreement of the archdiocese,” the suit states.

The archdiocese had no choice but to sue, according to a statement released by a spokeswoman in late June.

The proposed sale to Perry would be worth $14.5 million, consisting of $10 million in cash and an agreement to provide an alternative property for the house of prayer worth $4.5 million, according to the archdiocese.

The same day the suit was filed, Judge Robert O’Brien issued a temporary restraining order directing Hollister to permit archdiocese officials and their attorneys to enter the property. According to the archdiocese attorneys’ new court papers, the property represents nearly all of the institute’s assets.

“Although her deed is flawed, (Hollister) has possession and has recorded the deed so that title is now clouded and no legitimate transaction can move forward,” the archdiocese attorneys state in their new court papers. “The institute may well run out of funds before this matter can be resolved.”

The new court papers are related to the archdiocese attorneys’ request that a preliminary injunction be issued enjoining Hollister from occupying the property and from interfering with the plaintiffs’ attempts to sell the property to Perry. A hearing on whether a preliminary injunction should be issued is scheduled for Thursday.

The Sisters of the Most Holy’s activities are overseen by the archdiocese under orders issued in 2005 and 2013 in which the Rev. Thomas Anslow was appointed to act as the legal agent authorized to act in all civil matters on behalf of the institute, the suit states.

“Hollister admitted that she knew the prior written approval of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles was required,” the archdiocese attorneys state in their court papers.

In his sworn statement, Anslow says Perry’s representatives first inquired about the property in late 2011 or early 2012. He says the archbishop initially was cool to the idea and said it was not for sale.

However, last year Perry’s group made a renewed pitch, this time offering to build a new priests’ house of prayer elsewhere and to allow the clergy to remain on the property for a nominal rent until the new structure was completed, according to the archdiocese attorneys’ court papers.

But the 30-year-old “Roar” singer’s precise plans for the property have not been publicly spelled out.

—City News Service

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