Spotlight In 1976, at the Boston Police station, two policemen discuss the arrest of Fr. John Geoghan for child molestation. The mother of the child is approached by the top clergyman. An assistant district attorney arrives at the precinct and instructs police officers to not divulge to the media what has happened. The arrest is not publicized and Geoghan is released.
Marty Baron is the new managing editor of The Boston Globe. He is in contact with Walter Robinson who is editor for the newspaper’s Spotlight investigation team. Baron reads the Globe article about Mitchell Garabedian’s accusations that the Archbishop of Boston was aware of the abuse committed by Geoghan to children. Baron then urges the Spotlight to examine the allegations. Michael Rezendes journalist calls Garabedian. Garabedian initially declines to speak to him. Although Rezendes is advised not to do so, Rezendes discloses that he is part of the Spotlight team and convinces Garabedian to speak with him. Spotlight HD
At first, they believe that they are following the story of a priest who was moved to different assignments numerous times, the Spotlight team is able to identify an ongoing pattern of sexual assault by other priests in Massachusetts as well as an ongoing cover-up conducted by the Boston Archdiocese. The victims’ rights group Survivors Network of Abused Priests is run by Phil. This results in the expansion of the investigation to 13 priests. They discover from Richard Sipe, an ex-priest who was working to help rehabilitate priests who had been sexually assaulted, that Sipe’s findings suggest that there are approximately 90 priests who are abusive in Boston (6 percent of priests). In the course of their research, the team develops the list of 87 names and begins to identify victims to support their suspicions.
The investigation starts to take its toll on the team Reporter Matt Carroll learns one of the priest treatment centers are on the same block as his home but is unable to tell his children or neighbors and reporter Sacha Pfeiffer discovers she is unable go to church with her grandmother following having witnessed the magnitude of the investigation. Rezendes insists on getting the story out quickly to avoid further abuse and Robinson is confronted by several of his close associates who he learns were complicit in covering up the abuse.
The September 11 attacks force the team to de-prioritize their story. When Garabedian informs Rezendes that publicly available documents show that Cardinal Law was aware of the abuse, but he did not mention the issue, they gain momentum. Although Rezendes insists on publishing the story immediately to avoid more victims suffering, and other publications publishing similar stories, Robinson refuses. He argues that the team must continue to investigate the issue more thoroughly to discover the root cause. After the Globe wins a case to have even more legal documents released that give evidence of the bigger picture, the Spotlight team begins to write the story and intend to release their findings by early 2002.
In the days ahead of when they go to print, Robinson admits he learned through the investigation that he received the list of 20 priests sexually abusive by lawyer Eric MacLeish in 1993, which Robinson did not follow up. Baron continues to praise Robinson as well as the Spotlight team’s efforts to uncover the crimes today. The story is published with the link to Law’s records and also a number for the victims of priests who abuse their children. In the next day the team is flooded with calls from victims coming forward to share their experiences.
The textual epilogue explains that Law resigned in December 2002, and was later promoted to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome The book also presents a list of 105 U.S. communities and 101 other communities around the world where major scandals involving abuse by priests have taken place.