Katy Perry wins legal battle amid long-running convent saga

Posted November 19, 2017 00:46:01

A Los Angeles jury has awarded $US5 million ($AU6.6 million) to pop singer Katy Perry and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, after they found a restaurateur intentionally interfered with the singer’s attempts to buy a hilltop property that was once a convent.

The jury found that Dana Hollister should pay the Archdiocese $US3.47 million ($AU4.6 million) and Perry $US1.57 million ($AU2.1 million) for interference with contractual relations and other misdeeds.

The 33-year-old pop star has sought to buy the three-hectare property and its Roman-villa style buildings in the city’s Los Feliz neighbourhood for $US14.5 million ($A19.2 million), and to relocate an adjoining house of prayer used by priests. Her bid has the approval of Los Angeles’ archbishop.

But Ms Hollister stepped in and attempted to buy the property from two nuns who had lived there.

The Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary have owned the property for more than four decades, but they haven’t lived in the convent for several years.

Only five sisters, who are in their 70s and 80s, remain, and their order has bickered with the archbishop for years on various issues. They objected to the sale to Perry.

The nuns watched the “Roar” singer’s music videos and met with her, but that only hardened their opposition to her turning their convent into her home.

A judge voided the sale to Ms Hollister earlier this year, saying the Archdiocese had the right to sell the property, not the nuns.

The jury found that Ms Hollister’s actions led to Perry and the Archdiocese having to pay exorbitant lawyer fees and other costs, which Ms Hollister should get the bill for.

Her lawyer Michael Geibelson said in court that she thought she had a correct and legal contract, and intended no harm.

“I don’t think Dana Hollister did anything wrong as to either of these parties,” Mr Geibelson said during the trial.

Perry and the archdiocese are still working out the terms of the sale. The archdiocese needs permission from the Vatican to finalise it.

The trial moves to a second phase in December, when the jury will decide if Ms Hollister should pay punitive damages.


Topics: courts-and-trials, catholic, music, united-states

Child sex abuse survivor seeks to inspire hope through photography

By Sue Peacock

Posted May 12, 2017 21:45:13

Thousands of photographs captured on a smartphone are at the centre of a new exhibition in Ballarat documenting one child abuse survivor’s path to healing.

Peter Blenkiron’s photographs are on show at the Art Gallery of Ballarat alongside video diaries and a documentary film about his story of abuse at the hands of Christian Brothers.

Blenkiron is seeking healing from the debilitating legacy of abuse that was inflicted on him as an 11-year-old by a St Patrick’s College Christian Brother.

He says he wants the exhibition to inspire hope in other abuse survivors.

“There is a story that goes with the shots which shows that journey of hope and light no matter how dark it gets,” he said.

Ballarat remains infamous for a group of notorious paedophile Catholic priests who abused children over a number of decades.

Blenkiron hopes the exhibition will act as another “Eureka” moment for Ballarat.

“Just like we saw political change on the back of the deaths of miners and police during the Eureka Stockade, now is the time for cultural change on the backs of the deaths of so many people I went to school with, those who didn’t make the journey,” he said.

Ballarat’s suicide rate is higher than the state and national average and all funds from the exhibition including from the sale of photographs will go towards the prevention of suicide and premature death.

Gallery director Gordon Morrison said it was important the gallery responded to issues impacting the Ballarat community.

“It is a very important to look at the experience of these people, to look at Peter Blenkiron’s intensely personal response — the response of a survivor trying to see positives,” he said.

“It is that positive message contained within the exhibition that is really important.

“Art has a social message, art is not necessarily about the pure and the beautiful and the true, it is also about speaking out for people who haven’t had a voice in the past and that is what this exhibition does.”

Curator Vanessa Beetham, a childhood friend of Blenkiron, has plans to tour the exhibition to other abuse hotspots including Boston in the US.

“The survivors and community advocates have a vision for making Ballarat a centre for healing which we hope will become a model for the rest of the country, to leave a much more optimistic legacy than being remembered as one of the worst epicentres for child sexual abuse and suicides in the country,” she said.

An essay of 26 large portraits of survivors and community advocates, by Archibald Prize finalist Daniel Butterworth, are also part of the exhibition.

The exhibition expands on a smaller show of Blenkiron’s photos last year and opens this weekend.

Topics: child-abuse, catholic, sexual-offences, photography, arts-and-entertainment, ballarat-3350, vic