Attack Seen As Business-related

Bishop's Interest In Acquiring Palladium Possible Assault Motive

December 29, 1991|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff writer

County police say that a bizarre assault of a bishop last week may have been motivated by a pending sale of the Palladium banquet hall inBaltimore, which the clergyman had an interest in acquiring.

The three attackers, who struck Bishop Earl Wortham, 40, with screwdrivers, reportedly mentioned a building purchase to the victim during the assault, said Thomas M. Martin, a county police detective.

Wortham is the bishop of the Back to the Bible Apostolic Temple For All People in Catonsville, which he said has 500 members. He was treated and released at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center following theattack, which occurred Dec. 19 at his home in the Farside neighborhood in Ellicott City, an upscale residential community.

The Palladium, in the 2900 block of Liberty Heights Avenue, is a large banquet and meeting hall that offers catering for special events.

"This is a very sticky situation. It's very involved, and I'm still concerned about my own safety," Wortham said in an interview this week. He saidthe building purchase may have had something to do with the attack, but he refused to comment further.

Wortham is also a real estate investor and a professor of finance at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington.

Police said that they have no suspects in the case and that their only lead so far has been the comments that the attackers made about the building purchase.

In May, John Hanson Savings Bank foreclosed on the property, claiming that a $1.4 million loan for building improvements was in default.

That foreclosure, however, is being appealed and "the title to the property is still unresolved," said Robert Fulton Dashiell, an attorney for PalladiumInc.

A receiver for the bank, Resolution Trust Corp., at one point announced that the building was up for public sale and Wortham emerged as an interested buyer, Dashiell said.

Police said the assaultoccurred during the evening when the three men went to Wortham's home, in the 11600 block of Cedar Line Court, and said they had a parcelto deliver. When Wortham opened the door, the men attacked him with screwdrivers.

The men stole credit cards, checks and a bag containing several hundred dollars in cash before leaving, although police said it is still unclear whether robbery was the primary motive for the attack.

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