Nun accused of bad habits by St. Armands businesses

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Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 4:21 pm

**UPDATE** This nun has contacted ABC 7 and wants to tell her story.  ABC 7's Rebecca Vargas has that story here.

SARASOTA, Fla. - Business owners on St. Armands Circle say they've had enough with a woman dressed as a nun soliciting donations for people in Haiti.

At Tuesday morning's Business Improvement District meeting, the association voiced their concerns in hopes of getting answers about who this mystery woman is.

The St. Armands BID says that for months the nun has been standing out on the sidewalks of St. Armands circle, multiple times a week, asking for money to feed children and families in Haiti.

"A lot of the things that this nun has been able to do, our businesses would get fined for," says Diana Corrigan, executive director of the St. Armands Circle Association.

She says a primary problem is that according the circle's code, merchants cannot have signage outside of their business. But the nun is holding hand-made signs and setting up a sandwich board.

Corrigan also fears more people may start soliciting on the circle. "Part of the problem is that it's setting a precedent that we're very concerned could multiply."

Businesses ABC 7 spoke with say they even question her legitimacy and do not know what parish or organization she belongs to. "Her signage doesn't...it's handwritten, it doesn't indicate any affiliation. So it gives pause for concern and question," says Michael Ballantyne of Café L’Europe.

The board voiced that same concern to law enforcement. "We should look at the validity of this to make sure that this is an official entity, and that it's going to a worthy cause."

ABC 7 reached out to the Diocese of Venice, who says they have heard of the woman's solicitation for donations in various locations around Sarasota, and says she is not a part of the diocese.

St. Armands nun
Courtesy: St. Armands Circle Association

More recently, merchants say the woman's presence on the circle is starting to affect them and patrons more directly. "You want to be hospitable and charitable, but she's coming on a regular basis asking for ice and water. Again, what do those cost? However, during business it's not appropriate," says Ballantyne.

Merchants say the woman is now asking patrons to purchase food and drinks for her, and using their restrooms.

According to the Sarasota Police Department, the woman is not breaking any codes or laws and they cannot open an investigation since they have not received any criminal complaints regarding the woman.

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