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Thompson responds to claims she had deal with Bishop Sullivan - abc27 WHTM

Thompson responds to claims she had deal with Bishop Sullivan

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Former Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson is speaking out following claims she and Bishop A.E. Sullivan had a special understanding not to condemn and demolish his south city crumbling church.

Bulldozers knocked down walls on the Victory Outreach Church as demolition continued on Monday. The foundation of the dilemma surrounding this 117-year-old church also proves to be in pieces.

Ever since Bishop Sullivan was arrested in late February, questions have been swirling about his arrest and relationship with the past administration.

Last week, Sullivan's attorney Sandra Thompson (no relation to Linda Thompson) spoke after they and the city agreed to lift an emergency injunction, which halted demolition on the church for two days. Thompson said the reason why due process was not followed is because the city never issued a new condemnation notice, only referring to one issued in 2009. Sullivan's attorney said the demolition also violated a special deal or understand that Sullivan had with former mayor Linda Thompson.

"The [Victory Outreach Church] as well as Bishop Sullivan has had a long standing communication with the city," said Sandra Thompson. "The past administration stayed all efforts of condemnation."

During a sit down interview with Linda Thompson, candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 4th District, she responded to Sandra Thompson's remarks.

"I find that hard to believe that an attorney would be reckless in their statements," she said.

The former Harrisburg mayor disputes claims she used her city government powers to protect Sullivan. Thompson explained Sullivan sought her help to receive funding for church repairs while she was in office.

"My proactive stance was we continued to work with a responsible landlord owner who came in and told us the he was seeking financial aid," Thompson said.

According to court documents filed by Sullivan's attorney, repairs to stabilize the property were estimated to be $30,000. Linda Thompson did not mention the figure, but said he wanted financial help. State and federal grants were sought, but Thompson said Sullivan did not meet the criteria needed, she turned him away.

"We gave [Bishop Sullivan] no preferential treatments and he respected that and understood that," Thompson said. "So, off he was trying to find his finances, and the codes department was certainly instructed by the mayor to continue to monitor the situation."

According to city codes records, Sullivan was cited 17 times since 2005. The property received a condemnation notice in 2009.

"He got no preferential treatment from the administration that I ran," Thompson said. "And in fact Bishop Sullivan was proactive in his position. These particular citations that he has were on the desk of the codes' offices long before I became the mayor."

Thompson took office in 2010. Last week, the Papenfuse administration released a list of six warrants for arrest for Sullivan, the reason they mayor's office said he was arrested that night on Feb. 21. It is unclear how many citations were issued to Sullivan while Thompson was in office.

According to abc27 records, both Sullivan and Thompson held a joint rally last may to end gun violence in the city. In July, both were present during a rally to raise awareness in legal system flaws following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Given that Sullivan is a high-profile community leader; Thompson was pushed on why he was not arrested sooner.

"We took a proactive stance," she said. "We didn't get involved in arresting people."

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