By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
WORCESTER, November 5, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A man falsely accused of throwing a pro-homosexual protester to the ground during a pro-marriage rally in Worcester, Massachusetts has been acquitted of all charges, after evidence emerged during his jury trial that police had falsified and suppressed eyewitness testimony in their report.
Larry Cirignano, former Executive Director of the organization Catholic Citizenship, had been accused in late 2006 of pushing pro-gay protester and ACLU board member Sara Loy to the ground after escorting her out of an area set aside for the pro-marriage rally being held by the Massachusetts Family Institute.
Loy had penetrated to the center of the rally, and was holding a large sign in front of the speaker, obstructing his view and shouting slogans to disrupt the delivery of his speech, a violation of Massachusetts law. Cirignano, according to his testimony, simply used his Secret Service training in crowd control to apply a gentle “catch and release” maneuver, escorting Loy out of the center area and letting her go. He used only one hand in the process.
Witnesses at the trial testified that Loy had then tripped and fallen over the feet of a teenage participant, well after being released by Cirignano. After losing her balance and falling, witnesses said, Loy turned on her back and began to chant, “This is what hatred is, this is what hatred is.”
Although the police took several statements from self-described “witnesses” to the aggression, cross-examination revealed that in many cases they weren’t close enough to have seen anything clearly, with numerous photos of the event confirming their locations. Moreover, only two claimed to have seen the actual shove, and neither could identify themselves in the many photos and videos of the area. However, police refused to take the statement of a teenager and her mother who were within inches of the event, and who said that Loy had tripped over the girl’s feet. Their testimony would ultimately help to exonerate Cirignano.
According to descriptions of the trial published by Mass Resistance, a Massachusetts Pro-Family organization, a witness reported by police as confirming the offending shove, actually told them the opposite. Inconsistencies in the police report were apparently so glaring that the prosecution moved to prevent the report from being read to the jury. The judge sustained the motion.
“Gilliam (Cirignano’s attorney) brought up the fact that the report quotes one witness, James Gillette, as telling Sullivan that Gillette saw Larry push Loy to the ground,” wrote Brian Camenker of Mass Resistance. “So Gilliam had Gillette come and testify. It turns out that Gillette is a pro-family supporter and testified, vehemently, that he never told Sullivan any such thing. Although he met with Sullivan on his own, as a witness, he said he told Sullivan that he definitely didn’t see Larry push Loy down!”
Numerous other inconsistencies emerged during the trial, and by the time closing statements were to be given, the prosecution was no longer basing its case on the accusation that Loy had been knocked down. It asked the jury to convict Cirignano simply because he had touched Loy in the process of escorting her out, which supposedly constituted misdemeanor assault. After two days of deliberation, the jury delivered a unanimous not-guilty verdict.
“It was clear that the whole thing was just completely bogus. You know the world believed that Larry had pushed this woman to the ground.” Camenker told LifeSiteNews.
According to Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), double standards and police collusion are increasingly a matter of concern when dealing with militant homosexual activists.
“We’ve already seen a double standard on the enforcement of hate crimes, you know like my friend Ralph Ovadal, he was in Wisconsin, he got hit in the back of the head by a gay activist, and they didn’t even file,” LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews. “It was basically not even a misdemeanor, there was no hate crime filed. So part of the political corruption is bringing the police in, to basically become ‘gay protectors.”
“The lesson to be drawn for us is, beyond just this court case, is can people fathom that there is the force out there, this left wing force, pro-gay force which is so hateful, that it’s totally ‘ends justifies the means’”, said LaBarbera. “They want to get the pro-family guys, they want to get the pro-lifers, and they’re willing to resort to these dirty tactics, that I don’t think any of us could even fathom doing on the pro-family side. We don’t play that way. We are fair people, we play within the rules of the system, but we’re up against this force which is quite willing to use downright sinister means to get us.”
Cirignano told LifeSiteNews that the prosecution had seriously disrupted his life: “It meant ten months of worrying about going to jail. It meant that I was virtually unemployable because everyone was worrying about hiring a hater, a beater, and you know…anyplace I went the gay bloggers would follow and say, ‘they just hired this guy is beating up a woman, and is a gay hater, etc.’”
By the time of the trial, Cirignano’s reputation had also been tarnished by Worcester Telegram-Gazette reporter Richard Nangle, one of the two people who claimed to have seen the “push” that caused Loy to fall. Nangle was proven at trial, using photographic evidence, to be too far away from the scene to have seen anything clearly (in fact, he could not identify himself in any photo of the event). Nangle and the editor of the Telegram-Gazette still refuse to retract the story.
“I’m No Saint, But I try”—Larry Cirignano Tells His Side of the Story
Larry Cirignano trial – four days of testimony, argument, and evidence
Shameless in Massachusetts: Reporter, paper stick with story about an assault that wasn’t, even after the account was proven wrong in court.