Los Angeles Archdiocese Sells Headquarters for $31 Million to Help Pay Sex Abuse Settlement

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has sold its 12-story administrative headquarters building to help pay last year's $660 million (euro455.36 million) settlement with people alleging sex abuse by clergy, a spokesman said.

The Archdiocesan Catholic Center was sold to Jamison Properties of Los Angeles for $31 million (euro21.39 million), archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg said Tuesday.

Staffers who oversee the archdiocese's cemeteries will move to office space on the grounds of a cemetery, Tamberg said. Others will consolidate in four of the building's floors that church officials will lease from the new owner, Tamberg said.

Tamberg did not know what would be on the building's other eight floors.

Jamison Properties president David Lee did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking details.

Cardinal Roger Mahony announced last year that the archdiocese would sell the Catholic Center and other church properties to raise money to settle hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits. Church officials had identified about 50 other nonessential properties that could be sold to fund settlements.

The deal reached last year with sexual abuse plaintiffs settled all 508 cases that remained against the archdiocese, which also paid $60 million in 2006 to settle 45 cases that were not covered by sexual abuse insurance.

The Catholic Center is the archdiocese's first major sale aimed specifically at paying for the settlement, Tamberg said.

Ray Boucher, the lead plaintiffs' attorney, did not immediately return calls for comment on the sale.

The headquarters building on Wilshire Boulevard was donated to the archdiocese in 1995 by drug store operator Thrifty PayLess. The company moved after the area was hit by the 1992 race riot, sparked when several white police officers were acquitted in the beating of black motorist Rodney King.

At the time, the building was valued on county books at $18 million, though real estate experts said it was worth no more than $7 million if sold to be leased out office by office.