Cirignano cleared of assault charges

BRIGHTON -- Former executive director of Catholic Citizenship Larry Cirignano was cleared on Oct. 22 of charges that he assaulted a same-sex marriage advocate. The judge dismissed a civil rights violation charge on Oct. 18.

Cirignano was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery following an incident at a traditional marriage rally held on the steps of Worcester City Hall Dec. 16, 2006. The rally was sponsored by, the campaign behind the marriage amendment that was defeated June 14.

Counter-demonstrator Sarah Loy, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union’s board of directors, alleged that Cirignano, a speaker at the rally, came down from the podium and pushed her to the ground.

Cirignano has maintained that he escorted the woman, who was disrupting the rally, back to the area where other protesters were standing. During the four-day trial a woman and her daughter, not associated with either demonstration, testified that Loy tripped over the daughter’s foot.

Kris Mineau, president of Massachusetts Family Institute, was speaking at the time of the incident.

“We have maintained that Mr. Cirignano took responsible action to allow the rally to proceed peacefully,” Mineau said in an Oct. 22 statement, “We are pleased that Mr. Cirignano and his family can put this painful episode of misrepresentation behind them.”

Mineau added that Loy was never injured and that her actions were part of an organized effort by the protesters to prevent the peaceful rally from continuing.

Catholic Citizenship activist Shari Worthington has brought a criminal complaint against Loy for disturbing a lawful assembly.

Cirignano resigned as executive director of Catholic Citizenship early this year in order to head a Washington, D.C. organization dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage nationwide.

A Catholic Citizenship statement released on Oct. 22 said, “We are encouraged that the truth has prevailed and Larry Cirignano can continue his tireless efforts at preserving marriage, fighting the sanctity of life and promoting traditional Catholic values in Washington D.C. and throughout the nation.”