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Police investigate damage to Virgin Mary statue at Selden church

Suffolk police on Thursday investigate the vandalism of

Suffolk police on Thursday investigate the vandalism of a Blessed Virgin Mary statue on the grounds of St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Selden. Credit: Stringer News

Police are seeking whoever damaged a 5-foot-high statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary set on secluded grounds at a Selden church, in what authorities are considering to be a hate crime.

The statue was atop a 3-foot pedestal by a low garden wall at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, in an area for prayer and reflection, said Det. Sgt. James Brierton of the major case unit.

"The most damage was to the face of Mary and part of what would be her flowing robe also has some damage," he said. "The face has damage to the nose, chin and cheeks as if it was struck with something."

The statue appears to be hollow and made of fiberglass-like material, and whatever struck it took off the ivory-colored layer of the material, leaving a darker layer exposed, he said. "Something caused some cracks and denting to the facial area." Brierton said.

The church property on College Road also contains a school. The statue is located near the parking lot, police said.

"The statue is in a shrine area  . . . separate so you can be alone and sit on a bench and offer prayers to Mary or sit by yourself and think," Brierton said. "So it's a secluded-type area on the property." 

One key challenge is finding out when the damage was done, he said. A parishioner saw the damage two days ago but did not report it to church officials until Thursday, police said.

It's unclear why the parishioner did not report it sooner, police said, and detectives are trying to narrow down the time of the criminal mischief.

Detectives ask anyone with information to call the hate crimes detectives at 631-852-6323  or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.

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