Worcester Catholic Workers get community service for antiwar “rosary arrest”

posted by Mike on November 6th, 2008

Ken and Scott after their hearing

Two Worcester Catholics were sentenced to community service by Judge Timothy S. Hillman in Worcester District Court today.

Ken Hannaford-Ricardi and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, members of the SS. Francis & Therese Catholic Worker community, were previously found guilty of the petty offense of disobeying a US Marshal when they refused to leave the lobby of the Worcester federal building while praying the rosary for an end to the Iraq War this past March 19.

At the original trial, they had been sentenced to pay the minimum fine of $250, but for personal reasons they refused. Their three co-defendants, Michael Benedetti, Sandra McSweeney, and Roger Stanley, accepted the fine.

At today’s hearing, Assistant US Attorney Karin Bell asked the judge to levy an even heavier fine on Schaeffer-Duffy, who has “a lengthy criminal history.” She said that “a convicted defendant does not have the right to come before this court and say what he will or will not do,” and that “these defendants have chosen the lifestyle they have chosen.”

Rather than increase the fines, Judge Hillman vacated the fines, processing fees, and assessments, changing their penalty to community service. Hannaford-Ricardi will spend 25 hours volunteering at the United Way, and Schaeffer-Duffy will spend 40 hours at the library.

It’s interesting to note that on the list of “Shelters for adults in the area” hanging on the bulletin board in the probation office, the third shelter listed is the Catholic Worker, where Schaeffer-Duffy lives and Hannaford-Ricardi volunteers.

“Rosary trial” sentencing hearing Nov 6

posted by Mike on October 29th, 2008

Two of the five found guilty of disobeying a federal marshal earlier this year, in connection with praying a rosary for an end to the Iraq War at the Worcester federal building, have a hearing scheduled at Worcester District Court this November 6 at 10am before Judge Hillman.

Anyone curious is encouraged to attend.

Though three of the defendants were willing to pay the $250 fine they were given, two others, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, refused the fine, citing personal circumstances and conscience. At this hearing Judge Hillman will reveal the consequences of their refusal, possibly by jailing them.

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Short video about “rosary trial”

posted by Mike on September 24th, 2008

For much more info, see: “Rosary” trial verdict: guilty of disobeying orders, not guilty of blocking entrance, $250 fine.

For a higher-quality video, download the mp4. If you’d like to use this video, there are Creative Commons-licensed versions in several formats.

“Rosary” trial verdict: guilty of disobeying orders, not guilty of blocking entrance, $250 fine

posted by Mike on September 23rd, 2008

Five Roman Catholics, arrested March 19 in connection with praying for an end to the Iraq War in the lobby of the Worcester federal building, were today found guilty of one petty offense and not guilty of another.

Magistrate Judge Timothy S. Hillman today found all five defendants guilty of failure “to comply with lawful direction of authorized individuals (U.S. Marshals)” and fined them the minimum penalty of $250.

They were not found guilty of the other petty offense, obstructing the entrance and impeding performance of duties by government employees.

Before the pre-trial hearing, Worcester federal court
The defendants in June 2008: Mike, Sandra, Ken, Scott, Roger

Three of the defendants, Michael Benedetti, Sandra McSweeney, and Roger Stanley, plan to pay the fine. Two others, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, said they could not pay the fine for reasons of conscience. There will be a hearing on their situation November 6.


  • T&G video of people marching to the trial (features the Jagerstatter prayer)
  • Short video recapping the trial

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Thoughts on Catholic education

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on September 6th, 2008

On Friday, September 20, an event sponsored by the US Army called “The Spirit of America” will be held at the DCU Center.

It is billed as an educational dramatization of American military history and is offered for free especially to students and schools. This is a traveling sound, light, video, and live-action show that includes state-of-the-art special effects and realistic simulated battle scenes in period uniforms. At the end of the show, cards are passed out asking students what they thought of the show and encouraging them to list their email and other contact information. This information is given to military recruiters.

This show came through Worcester several years ago and I joined over 100 Worcester parents who protested outside the arena.

On November 3, 2004, Pope John Paul II said, “No one can consider himself faithful to the great and merciful God who in the name of God dares to kill his brother…. Religion and peace go together: To wage war in the name of religion is a blatant contradiction.” Before he died, Pope John Paul II said that war in Iraq was “unjust, immoral, and illegal.” Pope Benedict XVI has echoed these concerns.

On September 23, five Catholics of this diocese, including myself go on trial in federal court for praying the rosary for an immediate end to the Iraq war.

I hope the Catholic schools will not send children to the pro-military rally “Spirit of America,” but consider sending them to our trial instead. It too is offered for free.

Rosary trial: necessity denied

posted by Mike on July 29th, 2008

Our motion for a “necessity defense” in our upcoming federal trial for praying the rosary has apparently been denied.

Telegram & Gazette:

A federal magistrate judge has denied a motion for a “necessity defense” for five people in the Catholic Worker Movement charged with obstructing the U.S. District courthouse when they prayed there for an end to the war in Iraq.

The group had argued that it was necessary to violate the law to prevent a greater evil.

We haven’t received official notice of this yet; I’ll update this post when we do.

Update: “Religion Clause” has a blog post and what seems to be the PDF of the decision, filed a week ago. Meanwhile, nothing’s come in the mail yet.

Second update: Apparently the T&G reporter got word of this through an electronic court filings service they use. And apparently the court is not going to mail us a copy of this ruling.

Scott Schaeffer-Duffy and I explored some of the legal issues in a podcast this morning. You can download the mp3 or see other formats.


If you’d like to support this effort, you can meet with the defendants today (July 29, 2008) at the weekly peace vigil in Worcester’s Lincoln Square, 3:30-4:30pm. We hope you can attend our trial, September 23, 2008 at the federal courthouse in Worcester.

“The curious case of the protest permit”

posted by Mike on July 14th, 2008

This week’s Worcester Magazine does a great job explaining the latest pre-trial motions and letters in our “rosary trial”:

Usually, says Schaeffer-Duffy, giving advance notification of a protest means you’ll be arrested as soon as you show up. So the fact that the marshals and police waited for the group to finish almost made them feel like they were getting off with no trouble. The wait, says Schaeffer-Duffy, is “unprecedented” in his experience.

As for Bell’s claims that the group was given a card to contact the building manager, Schaeffer-Duffy says no one remembers that happening.

“Should it be true that such a permit exists, and we can obtain one … we will be scheduling regular protests [at the courthouse]. It’s a win-win. We’re going to take it at face value and pursue it.”

Public events in Worcester federal building: talk to manager?

posted by Mike on July 4th, 2008

A few weeks back, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi went into the Worcester federal building to see about getting a permit to hold a political/religious event there. After being sent to various offices, and waiting several days for people to check around about a permit, he was told that nobody knew about such a permit. He wrote to the judge in our civil disobedience case, letting him know that getting a permit was not so straightforward as the US Attorney made it out to be.

Now the Government has written a letter in reply, saying that the Building Manager is the person to approach, as per Code of Federal Regulations 41 S. 102-74.460 through S. 102-74.555.

When we’ve had a chance to approach the Building Manager, I’ll post the results here.

No “permit process” for Worcester federal building

posted by Mike on June 20th, 2008

This is the text of a document submitted today to Judge Timothy S. Hillman by Ken Hannaford-Ricardi. Emphases added.

Dear Judge Hillman,

At our June 16, 2008 pre-trial conference, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin M. Bell’s written reply to our motion for the right to present evidence in support of a defense of necessity stated that the defense should be excluded as a matter of law because: “the defendants in this case had a very specific legal alternative they could have pursued. They could have requested a permit to enter the courthouse to perform a short prayer in protest of the war in Iraq. Indeed, the defendants were provided with this information by the U.S. Marshall upon entering the courthouse to pray.”
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A little no-trial vigil

posted by Mike on June 17th, 2008

Worcester Telegram & Gazette: Judge to decide on ‘necessity’ of prayer: Group says other anti-war tactics failed

(This isn’t on their website . . . it is now.)


Today was originally supposed to be our trial, and since we mailed out many announcements some of us went to morning mass and the federal building in case some supporters hadn’t heard about the change. Two folks did show up.
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