Vindication for Catholic leader; but blow to journalistic integrity

Vindication for Catholic leader; but blow to journalistic integrity

Last year, Larry Cirignano, who at the time was head of the group Catholic Citizenship, was charged with assault after being accused of shoving a woman to the ground at a pro-marriage rally. This woman, Sarah Loy, is an official with the Massachusetts ACLU and she was standing in front of the speaker’s podium holding a pro-gay sign. Cirignano escorted her away and the woman took a header. She claimed he slammed her to the ground. While other bystanders disputed that claim, a reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, sister publication of the Boston Globe and owned by the New York Times, supported Loy’s version of events.

Well, a year later, after having had his reputation trashed in the local media, Cirignano has been found innocent by a jury. In fact, the jury completely rejected Loy’s claims and the supposedly unbiased eyewitness account of the reporter, Richard Nangle.

Worcester Telegram-Gazette reporter Richard Nangle misreported the story from the beginning and eventually became a star witness for the prosecution. Telegram Metro columnist Diane Williamson openly mocked the defense case in an Oct. 18 piece entitled “Fishy Excuse Shouldn’t Get Him Off,” and called Nangle the only “objective” witness.


At the trial, only two of the prosecution’s witnesses supported Loy’s account of the “assault.” Nangle, who was covering the rally for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and Unitarian minister Aaron Payson both testified they saw Cirignano push Loy. However, Cirignano’s defense counsel established with video and photos that neither man was close enough to have reliably witnessed the event.

Several witnesses who were in the immediate vicinity testified that Cirignano led Loy away from the lectern with his right arm against her back and had started back to the lectern before Loy fell down. According to witnesses, Loy tripped backward over a 13-year-old girl’s foot, landed on her buttocks, curled up into a fetal position and began to cry. She did not seek medical treatment. Loy said in her testimony that she had felt continuous pressure on her back, but had not actually been pushed down.

Yet with all that established, look at what Nangle wrote for publication the day after the events:

WORCESTER – Tempers boiled over at an anti-gay marriage rally yesterday when the executive director of the Boston-based Catholic Citizenship emerged from behind a lectern outside City Hall, rushed toward a female counter-demonstrator, and pushed her to the ground.

Sarah Loy, 27, of Worcester, was holding a sign in defense of same-sex marriage amid a sea of green “Let the People Vote” signs when Larry Cirignano of Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, ran into the crowd, grabbed her by both shoulders and told her, “You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now.” Mr. Cirignano then pushed her to the ground, her head slamming against the concrete sidewalk.

Here’s an important point to consider: Despite claims to the contrary, an objective reporter on stories related to the major cultural issues of our time is a rarity. I’ve been at pro-life sidewalk counseling and prayer, at the March for Life in Washington, at Operation Rescue demonstrations, at pro-marriage rallies in Boston, and rarely has the coverage in print or broadcast in the mainstream media been accurate. In fact, I’ve seen what can only be described as willful distortion. I’ve seen with my own eyes pro-abortion activists fighting with police only to have the TV reporter show the footage in such a way as to leave the impression that it was pro-lifers fighting with them.

In other words, a reporter is not necessarily an objective witness and every report on such things should be read with a critical eye and a grain of salt.

  • The jury didn’t reject any of Nangle’s claims. They just rejected the DA’s claim that whatever happened was assault.

  • Dear Mike,

    You read Nangle’s account, right?

    Can I have your permission to offer your post for Most Asinine Comment of the Week consideration?


    Irish Spectre

  • Spectre, I read all the accounts, and I attended the entire trial. The Town Hall article on the trial and incident doesn’t do a very good job describing either—too much distortion of fact there.

  • If they proved that the reported wasn’t close enough to see the incident then it seems like the whole testimony would be purjury and the article in the paper would be libel.  In general I hate the litigious nature of our society, however someone needs to let jornalist know that news papers aren’t propaganda factories or smear engines.