Thursday, November 8, 2007

Nuns denounce supporter


Three Santa Barbara nuns who were evicted from their convent by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in August have severed ties with a woman named Denise D’ Sant Angelo, who says she is president of a non profit that was formed to raise money on behalf of the sisters.
“We, the Sisters of Bethany of Santa Barbara, are no longer associated in any way with Denise D’ Sant Angelo or any organization that she is affiliated with,” says the statement, which is signed by Sister Angela Escalera, the superior of the convent. “Denise D’ Sant Angelo, nor any organization she is affiliated with, is not authorized to act on our behalf or in our name in any manner, including but not limited to, the solicitation of donations on our behalf.”

D’ Sant Angelo said she did not know about the statement before being interviewed by the Daily Sound last night and would not comment directly about it.
Mack Staton, an attorney with the law firm Mullen & Henzell, who is representing the sisters, said D’ Sant Angelo has collected donations on behalf of the sisters, which have not yet been turned over to the sisters.
Staton said he sent a letter to D’ Sant Angelo on Monday requesting that any funds be accounted for, but has not yet heard back from her.
“I asked that she deliver the money and give us an account if she’s spent any of it,” Staton said. “We’re not accusing anyone of anything. We just want to step back and see what they’ve got.
D’ Sant Angelo insisted she has not yet received the letter from Staton.
She said she personally filed forms with the government in October to establish a non profit which she says is called Save our Sisters of Bethany.
But Staton said he has not been able to find any records that indicate such a non profit exists.
When asked how much money the non profit had raised for the sisters, D’ Sant Angelo said she didn’t know. She did say no money has yet been given by the non profit to the nuns, adding that a formal request must occur before any money is transferred.
“The sisters are not allowed to manage funds from the non profit,” D’ San Angelo said. “That would be a conflict of interest.”
She said the non profit is not only raising money for the local order of the Sisters of Bethany, but is also raising money for the main order, which is located in Guatemala.
D’ Sant Angelo denied any wrong doing and accused Ernie Salomon and Anthony Dal Bello, two of the original committee’s founders, of wrong doing.
Dal Bello, who said he left the committee in order to spend more time on his Christmas tree business, vehemently denied ever doing anything wrong and said all he and Salomon wanted to do was help the sisters.
“We were trying to help the nuns,” Dal Bello said. “I don’t know what ax she’s trying to grind.
“I did nothing wrong. I just want her to give all the checks back to the sisters.”
Neither Salomon, Dal Bello or Staton knows how much money D’ Sant Angelo has collected on behalf of the sisters, but know the sisters want it back.
“We don’t know what she’s done with it,” Staton said. “We don’t know what account it’s in.”
D’ Sant Angelo said there is a board of directors is in place to run the non profit a local man named Walt Hogan is the treasurer.
Hogan neither denied or confirmed being the treasurer but said, “I think there’s so much going on; there’s so much misinformation that I’m not going to say anything.”
The three nuns who live at the convent were informed by the Archdiocese in late August that their longtime home would be sold in order to help pay a $660 million priest sex abuse settlement.
Dal Bello and Salomon helped form the committee shortly thereafter and an aggressive public relations campaign was unleashed to try and persuade the Archdiocese to allow the nuns to remain in their convent, which is located next to Out Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.
A person who asked to remain anonymous said D’ Sant Angelo began showing up to the committee’s meetings shortly after it was formed and took the reigns after Dal Bello left to focus on his business.
Salomon said the bottom line is that D’ Sant Angelo has money that belongs to the nuns and the nuns now want it back.
“The nuns want their money back period,” he said.
The statement from the sisters says any future donations to aid with their relocation and continued living expenses should be sent directly to the convent.
The address is:
Sisters of Bethany
215 N. Nopal St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

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