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Boston Globe

Catholic group leader faces assault charge
Boston Globe, Dec. 19, 2006
The executive director of a Catholic group will be charged with simple assault and battery after he allegedly pushed an advocate of same-sex marriage during a rally Saturday, Worcester police said yesterday. The charge against Larry Cirignano of Catholic Citizenship -- a nonpartisan organization founded by Raymond Flynn, a former Boston mayor, that promotes political activism among Catholics -- is a misdemeanor, police said. A court date will be scheduled after a summons is issued by Worcester Central District Court, police said.
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Catholic group leader denies pushing activist

By James Vaznis, Globe Staff | December 18, 2006

The executive director of a Catholic group founded by Raymond Flynn, former Boston mayor, yesterday denied pushing a gay marriage supporter, who fell to the ground in Worcester during a weekend rally organized to criticize the Legislature for not allowing a constitutional vote on the contentious issue.

Sarah Loy, 27, who supports same-sex marriages, said she was facing the crowd with a sign that read "No discrimination in the constitution" when a man approached her outside city hall, telling her she had to leave. Before she could go, she said, he grabbed her by the shoulders with both hands and pushed her backward . Loy said she fell to the ground.

"He came out of nowhere," she said. "It happened very fast. I never imagined someone would push me."

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which covered the rally on Saturday, identified the man as Larry Cirignano, executive director of Catholic Citizenship, which is described on its website as a nonpartisan organization that promotes political activism among Catholics.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that police interviewed but did not arrest Cirignano. Loy said she intended to file a complaint, but Worcester police refused to discuss the incident yesterday.

In a telephone interview last night, Cirignano acknowledged guiding the woman away from the event with his arm on her back, but said he had a portfolio in his left hand and did not knock her down.

He said he did not see her fall. "I promise you, I did not throw her to the ground."

Flynn, who spoke at the event, said in a written statement yesterday, "I didn't see any incident, but nobody has the right to push anyone. The marriage issue is very important and everyone is entitled to protest and demonstrate peacefully."

Loy said she was not injured during the fall.

She said she was among 20 or so gay-marriage supporters who attended the rally, but she said she was the only one who ventured into the crowd.

"I did not feel I was doing anything wrong," she said. "Personally, I'm fine. I hope he doesn't think that's acceptable behavior in the future."

James Vaznis can be reached at [email protected]

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