Visitation Vandals Still on Loose

Bay Ridge — Police at the 68th Precinct are stepping up their search for the vandals who desecrated statues on the grounds of Visitation Academy, the Catholic girls school on Ridge Boulevard, during the overnight hours of March 21-22.
At press time, the vandals had not yet been caught.

Investigators believe the act of vandalism was likely committed by youths, not anti-Catholic zealots, according to a police source familiar with the probe.

“It was probably kids doing it on a dare. It was like, ‘Let’s go in there and knock over some statues!’ Obviously, it got out of hand,” the source said.

The vandals sneaked onto the grounds of the school, located at 8902 Ridge Boulevard, and knocked over two statues that depicted children kneeling in prayer before a statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus, police said.

A third statue, depicting a lamb, was found decapitated beneath bushes near the statues of the children, police said.

“It looks like they tried to pick up the lamb and the neck broke. It had a narrow neck. They probably panicked and put it under the bushes,” the source said.

The damage was discovered during the early morning hours of March 22 by a groundskeeper, police said.

It’s not clear how the vandals gained access to the property, which is protected by a locked gate.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Marty Golden has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of the suspects.

“This act of religious vandalism is an insult to the tradition of excellence that Visitation holds true, and is a direct attack on the values and teachings of the Catholic Church,” he said.

Golden urged anyone with information to call the 68th Precinct at (718) 439-4211, or contact his office at (718) 238-6044.

Visitation Academy was established in 1855. The school property, which also includes a lake, is surrounded on three sides by high concrete walls and on one side by an iron gate. The grounds also house Visitation Monastery and housing for the Sisters of the Visitation, the order of nuns which founded the school.

— Paula Katinas