Survivors Of Clergy Sex Abuse Screen 'Spotlight' Film

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Survivors of the Boston clergy sex abuse scandal are praising "Spotlight," the new film that details The Boston Globe's investigation into the abuse and its cover-up.

Many of those abused by priests gathered for a private screening in Boston Thursday night, ahead of the movie's public release next week.

One word seemed to come to mind for survivors after seeing the film: validation.

"First of all, it's very validating for any victim, especially from this area," said David Lewcon, of Uxbridge.

He saw the movie for the first time at the Regal Fenway theater Thursday night. The screening was closed to the media, and organizers kept the location secret out of respect for those in attendance.

"There are a lot of moments in the movie, I mean, I had my tissue in my pocket and used it quite often just to wipe my eyes because it just brought out the emotion of the moment and what I've been experiencing most of my life," Lewcon said.

As buzz for the movie spreads around the city, an anti-abuse group called on the Boston Archdiocese to require church staff to watch the film.

"Oh my gosh, I mean, I can't even say the word 'spotlight' without tearing up," said David Clohessy, director of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

That's an emotion magnified by the power of film.

"The movie is an extraordinary validation, to people, literally thousands of men and women, who have suffered in silence for decades, that their pain was not in vain, and that their courage did not go unrecognized," Clohessy said.

The head of the Catholic Church in Boston, Archbishop Sean O'Malley, says he plans to see the movie. But Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon says it will not be required watching for church staff.

And Donilon says the film only shows part of the story.

"The part that doesn't get told is the story of the response, and that's a very important story that needs to be told because there's been an incredible effort underway to meet the needs of the survivors and their families," Donilon said.

But for survivor David Lewcon, justice still has not been served.

"We need some bishops in jail. Because most people think it's the priests," he said. "But it's the bishops that knew the priests were perpetrating, and passed them on to another community."

"Spotlight" opens in select theaters Nov. 6.

This article was originally published on October 30, 2015.


Simón Rios Reporter
Simón Rios is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.



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