January 23, 2008 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Archdiocese sells headquarters

The Spokesman-Review
 

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

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

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.

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.

Los Angeles

Foreclosures reach record level

A record 31,676 Californians lost their homes to foreclosure in the three months ended Dec. 31, the third-straight quarter of record-breaking foreclosures, records released Tuesday show.

Foreclosures were more than double the level of the worst quarter of the last real estate downturn, when 15,418 homes were taken back by lenders in the third quarter of 1996, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Falling home prices led to the spike in foreclosures, said DataQuick President Marshall Prentice.

“With today’s depreciation, an increasing number of homeowners find themselves owing more on a property than its market value,” Prentice said.

Statewide, the median price for a home peaked in March at $484,000, then fell to $402,000 by year’s end, according to DataQuick. Southern California median sales prices peaked in the spring and summer of last year at $505,000 and ended the year at $425,000.

New City, N.Y.

Ex-prosecutor faces sex charges

An ex-prosecutor and former PTA president who is also the wife of a suburban police chief has been charged with having sex, smoking marijuana and drinking with high-school-age children.

Beth Modica, 44, a former assistant district attorney in Rockland County and Queens, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to counts including statutory rape, sex abuse and endangering children.

Her husband is police chief of Spring Valley. He is “not implicated whatsoever,” Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said.

The 35-count indictment says that, beginning in July, Modica had intercourse with a 16-year-old, as well as oral sex with that boy and a 15-year-old.

Modica, a former PTA president at Sloatsburg Elementary School, also is accused of drinking with many other children at her home and smoking marijuana with them in her car.

Kansas City, Mo.

City appointee also ‘Minuteman’

A city parks board appointee has resigned after her controversial membership in an anti-illegal immigration group led two organizations to take their annual conventions elsewhere.

Frances Semler, 74, a member of the Arizona-based Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said Tuesday that she resigned because her involvement with the parks board had become too contentious and she did not feel that Mayor Mark Funkhouser supported her.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Semler defended her involvement in the civilian group, which advocates patrolling of the Mexican border and reports illegal immigrants to authorities. She has been a member since 2006.

“I’m a decent, nice person that happens to belong to the Minutemen and thinks our borders should be protected and our laws upheld,” Semler said.

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