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Earlier this month, a new film “Spotlight” was released that tells the true story of how the Boston Globe exposed the clergy sex abuse scandal in a local archdiocese. In 2002, a team of journalists at the Boston Globe exposed the sex abuse scandal with a series of stories, which detailed how the church knew that priests were abusing children but moved the priests from parish to parish.

Related: Pennsylvania Child Molestation-Abuse Lawsuits: What is the Statute of Limitations?

Prior to the series of stories in 2002, the Boston Globe had written stories about abusive priests but did not investigate the reports with regard to who within the archdiocese knew about the reports. There were sealed court files about a priest who was accused of abusing more than 100 children. The Globe was able to get the court to unseal these files which contained details of who within the archdiocese knew about the sex abuse allegations against priests and when they found out.

In one of the scenes from the new film, an actor portraying a man who was abused by a priest when he was 11 year old says, “[w]hen you’re a poor kid from a poor family and when a priest pays attention to you, it’s a big deal. How do you say no to God?”

In my opinion and as a priest sex abuse lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, what this victim says resonates with many sex abuse victims I represent.  Whether crime victims were abused by priests or teachers in PA, many were often vulnerable and targeted by their predators. If a child comes from a broken family or has a dysfunctional family life, an individual in a position of power, such as a priest, will prey on the child. At first, the child may receive a lot of attention from the priest making the child feel special and loved, something that he may not be getting at home. The child then becomes fond of the priest and trusts the priest. Then later, the priest will start to take advantage of the child’s feelings and sexually abuse the child.

Young children may not know or understand what the priest or person in a position of power is doing is a heinous act. In fact, some have no memories of it until later in their adulthood. Older children may know that it is wrong, but are conflicted because they admire or are fond of the predators because they pay attention to them.

Help for Sex Abuse Victims in PA and NJ

If you or a loved one was abused by a priest or a member of the clergy in Philadelphia, PA or NJ, talk to Brian Kent, Esq., a former sex crimes unit prosecutor, about your legal rights. Mr. Kent, a Philadelphia, PA priest sex abuse lawyer, has crime victims’ best interests in mind and will fight for his clients against sexual predators.

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Sources:

  • www.latimes.com (A ‘Spotlight’ on how films about the Catholic Church went from praise to judgment day)
  • www.boston.cbslocal.com (‘Spotlight’ Movie Shows How Boston Globe Exposed Church Sex Abuse Scandal)