Katy Perry Nearer to Closing $15M Convent Deal

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A complicated legal battle that set Katy Perry against two nuns is a step closer to ending after a state court judge said this week that the LA archbishop could sell a convent to the pop star.

After close to two years, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick ruled Tuesday that Sister Catherine Holzman and Sister Rita Callanan cannot block the sale of the convent to Katy Perry even after they negotiated a $10 million sale to Dana Hollister, who wanted to turn the 8-acre property into a boutique hotel.

Archbishop Jose Gomez’s attorney Michael Hennigan said he was pleased with Bowick’s ruling, although he expects more court hearings.

“It’s always been our objective to try to protect the nuns and this was a horrible deal that got done, that the judge has now declared invalid,” the McKool Smith attorney said in a phone interview, referring to the sisters’ attempt to sell to the hotel developer.

Hennigan said of Holzman and Callanan, “One would hope that they would also accept the finality of this, but you never know.”

In the contentious legal battle, the sisters’ interest in the Waverly Drive property was more than just financial after they publicly expressed their unease with a pop star who shot whipped cream from her bra in the video for “California Gurls” and played an elderly stripper in her “Birthday” music video.

Perry entered the legal battle through her company Birds Nest, claiming that Hollister, an “opportunistic” restaurateur, was manipulating the nuns.

In a September 2015 court filing, Perry said she had no problem with the sisters, would preserve the convent as a “residential oasis” after purchasing it for $14.5 million, and would let them stay for up to two years.

The nuns recently accused the pop star, who started her music career with a Christian rock album and was raised in a devout evangelical family, of dabbling in “witchcraft” –  apparently because she participated in a Salem Witch Walk – a walking tour in the Salem area for tourists – in 2014.

Bowick’s ruling comes after a Vatican decree in court records confirmed that the archbishop controls the property and has governing authority over the Institute of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, which is the religious community Holzman and Callanan belong to.

The archdiocese said that the other sisters in the institute opposed Holzman and Callanan’s attempts to block the sale of the convent, which was given to the institute 45 years ago.

“The main concern of the archdiocese is and has always been the care and well-being of all the IHM Sisters,” the archdiocese said on Wednesday, according to City News Service. “In 2014, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters agreed to have the archdiocese sell their former convent on their behalf.”

Bowick made a similar ruling in April 2016 but stopped short of validating Perry’s offer. The court did not reach a legal conclusion at that time as to whether the transaction, through Perry’s company Birds Nest, was valid or whether she could claim an interest in the convent.

The sisters’ attorney John Scholnick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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