“Spotlight”: HOW investigators discovered Catholic pedophile priests

This article contains spoilers about the movie “Spotlight”.

In the movie “Spotlight”, journalists from the Boston Globe struggle to get the truth out of the Catholic church, which is proving to be almost impossible.  They realize that if a priest was accused of child rape, and he was moved frequently, or was “classified” in one of a few specific categories, they are much more likely to be known pedophile priests moved by the Catholic church.

Reassignment frequency

The Spotlight team is told that most priests are reassigned every 7-8 years.  However, known pedophile priests were reassigned in 3 years or less.

Assignment classifications

The Spotlight team also found that known pedophile priests were given the following “designations” or “classifications”:

  • unassigned
  • absent on leave
  • sick leave
  • emergency response
  • lent/leased to a parish
  • put into “treatment centers”, which are actually pedophile treatment centers

Boosts count from 13 suspected pedophile priests to 70 known pedophile priests

At one point in the movie, they suspect that there are 13 pedo priests in Boston.  When they look for priests with these suspicious reassignment record, or assignment “categories”, they find 87 priests, which is near the 6% that Richard Sipe (on the phone in the movie) predicted in 2001 based on his statistics at the time.  Out of the 87 priests, 70 are confirmed by Jim Sullivan, the lawyer for the church, at the end of the movie.

Therefore, based on that sample, if a priest

  • has been reassigned in less than 3 years
  • was ever given any of the classifications above, or was ever in a treatment center

there is an 80.4% chance (70/87) that they are a known pedophile priest.

However, those aren’t the only pedophile priests:

and that only includes the ones that the Catholic church admitted.  There are definitely more that we don’t know about because:

  • the victims never came forward
  • Catholic priests have obviously never voluntarily told the truth about it

You find out the actual number when you die.

 

 

 

 

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