The Philadelphia Police Department deferred charges against a woman who it says punched an unsuspecting churchgoer during Catholic Mass on Sunday.
Police chose not to charge the suspect, who they identified Monday, because of her mental health issues, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The decision was made with Catholic Church officials and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
“As this incident has not been referred to our office for prosecution, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further,” a Philadelphia District Attorney spokesperson said, according to The Inquirer. (RELATED: ‘Catholics Are Under Attack In America’: Senator Kennedy Urges Attorney General Barr To Prosecute Anti-Catholic Crime)
The incident, which occurred at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, was captured on the church’s livestream. In the video, the woman, wearing a green sweatshirt, can be seen waiting near the front pews as the lectors who had read passages from scripture during the Mass walked toward her.
She then punched one of the lectors twice as several bystanders, including the priest who celebrated the Mass, looked on. Finally, the woman yelled something that cannot be heard in the video as the victim of the punch kept walking and the other lector ran away.
The incident occurred 32 minutes into the livestream.
“I saw somebody there that clearly seemed to be waiting there, and I was a little worried that she was going to attempt to make a scene of some sort, to disrupt the Mass,” the victim, Sarah Contrucci, said, according to The Inquirer. “So I was thinking that I wanted to do whatever I could to keep the situation calm and respectful, and so I just wanted to get back to my pew.”
She added: “Please join me in praying for everyone involved in today’s incident and for respect for our fellow brothers and sisters.”
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia didn’t respond to request for comment.
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