‘Based on Actual Events’? Except the Very First Scene From ‘Spotlight’ Is Completely Bogus

Spotlight movie review criticism

The Boston Globe

In the first few frames of the new movie Spotlight, it declares, "Based on actual events." The film then begins ominously with a late-night scene at a police station in "Boston – 1976." A single mother and a livid uncle are in the back room of the station complaining that the notorious pedophile, Rev. John Geoghan, has molested the family's children. They are there to press criminal charges.

But, lo and behold, with help from a local district attorney, a local bishop is at the station to quietly assure the family that Rev. Geoghan will be taken out of the parish and will no longer be a menace to their children. The bishop and Fr. Geoghan then quietly slip out of the station, into the back seat of a black sedan, and into the dark night. Crisis averted.

The problem? No such episode actually occurred. Ever.

By all accounts, this very first scene in Spotlight is a complete fabrication.

Another Hollywood machination

TheMediaReport.com has examined the Geoghan case extensively. Indeed, the crimes that Geoghan committed were abominable. For this, we must be very mindful and ensure that such crimes never happen again.

But here the Hollywood creators of Spotlight have simply manufactured an incident out of thin air.

None of the hundreds of the The Boston Globe's articles on the scandals ever reported or even hinted that such an episode ever happened in the Geoghan case.

None of the articles by the Boston Phoenix's Kristen Lombardi, who reported on the sex abuse story in the Archdiocese of Boston nearly a full year before the Globe did, report this event either.

The reason that the makers of Spotlight began their film with this bogus scene is simple: It reinforces the ages-old anti-Catholic bigotry of the Church as a corrupt, all-powerful institution able to exert its influence across all sectors of society, including law enforcement.

That the scene didn't actually happen is of little consequence to the makers of Spotlight and their fans in the movie industry, as long as the scene reinforces this bigotry against the Catholic Church.

Same as it ever was.

[There is even more. See the headlines. See the editorial cartoons. See the photographs.
Check out the most talked-about new book, Sins of the Press: The Untold Story of The Boston Globe's Reporting on Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church (Amazon.com)]


  1. Detreon Roberts says:

    Geoghan had 542 victims accoding to the Boston Globe.  FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-TWO, before he was stopped.  You checked every case?

    • TheMediaReport.com says:

      Thank you for contributing, but your claim of “542 victims” applies to the total number of accusers who filed lawsuits alleging abuse by many different priests in the Archiodese of Boston, not just Geoghan.


    • Detreon Roberts says:

      You might be right about the actual number, but it may be that he "only" raped 130 children with help from the Catholic church, and we definiteley know that they moved him around repeatedly, knowing that he raped children, so do you have documentation about all of the rapes of all 130 of the children, proving that none of them occurred like this?

      And is that what is important, or is the disgustingness of moving a child rapist around, repeatedly, over and over again, usiing "God's church" to get away with it, important?

      I'm more curious about what your audience thinks, since you are trying to de-emphasize the fact that the church moved a known, proven pedophile, and at least 129 times.

      Did the license plate have the correct number?

  2. Really? says:

    Did you actually talk to the writers or producers?

    Maybe there is an incident you overlooked.

    Maybe you are right. But seems sort of crazy to say that something never happened because you couldn't find it with a Google search. 

  3. Jim Robertson says:

    Hollywood has also fostered a belief in miracles that are pro "God' and pro church that reenforce your bullshit.

    Let me name a few. The Ten Commandments; Ben Hur; The Robe; Going My Way; Bells of St. Mary; Joan of Arc;  The Passion of the Christ; The Exorcist; etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum.

    The list could run to the hundreds of titles. Lourdes; Fatima every tin horn bit of religious fakery has all been treated with sacred reverance by Hollywood. No complaints from you all then.

    Law did what he did for Geoghan, in part, becuse the bastard's uncle was a bishop.

  4. TruCatholic says:

    Bishops, and Church Officals, racing to Police Stations, Schools, Hospitals, and Lawyers Offices, never once happened. It happened hundreds of times, in Boston. And throughout the country.

  5. Gerald Kleba says:

    I've been a priest in St. Louis for 49 years and had the sad experience of being assigned to follow a pastor who was a known sex abuser.  The archdiocese paid off his victim and moved him to another parish.  They removed him for good after the Boston Globe story and I am still pastor there thirteen years later.  Coming to this parish was like stepping into a beehive of anger and suspicion. 

    I have recently published a book of my 15 great stories of my life with kids and young adults.  It is a corrective to the scandal and represents 90+% of the U.S. Catholic priests who have never been accused.  The book is "Are You Still A Priest?" – True Stories of Tension and Trust.  It has 12 reviews and gets 5 stars on Amazon.  It's the untold – other side of the story that distressed Catholics are longing to hear.

  6. 1993 Victim says:

    "Based on actual events," means exactly what it says. It does not mean that it's a direct account of specific events.

    What happened in that first scene? Someone from the Catholic Church swept in to clean up a mess after someone complained that Geoghan molested kids (again). The Church representative makes hollow promises that it will never happen again. Fr. Geoghan is whisked away to be set free so he can find dozens of new victims. Did that really happen? Yes. Time and time again with many priests. The fact that it didn't happen in a police station interview room is irrelevant.

    You could argue that this scene is unfair because it suggests that a DA sympathetic to the Church helped clean up the mess and make it go away, and you'd be right to a small extent. I don't know of that actually being documented in the Geoghan case (because it would have happened behind closed doors with nobody to report it). However, the Church's own reports indicate that they relied heavily on Catholic judges and law enforcement officials to assist them with shielding the Church from scandal.

    So, in the end, while the scene wasn't a verbatim recounting of a specific event, it was based on actual events, just as advertised. It was based on actual events that happened repeatedly for extended periods of time in Boston and around the world.

    You conveniently ignore the statement at the end of the movie in which the filmmakers clearly state that in order to make a cohesive film they had to take certain liberties with time lines, events, and such. This website is desperate to the point of being utterly pathetic. History has spoken on this issue. Correcting an irrelevant detail here and there or trying to whitewash the whole scandal is pointless. It only darkens your heart. The Church has been tried fairly in the court of public opinion. It was found guilty on all counts, and there is no appeals process.

  7. dude says:

    Dude, you really missed the point of that scene.  Horribly.

  8. Fedupwithcatholicism says:

    I grew up in one of the churches mentioned in the movie. YOU BET it is based on facts. The Monseigneur at the church had a lot of clout in the Archdiosces and helped to keep Geoghan's actions under wraps and to keep it hushed up and move him around. The hardest thing for me in the movie was that Cardinal Law got that plum job at the Vatican after hiding Geoghan and his ilk for decades. Despicable. And so it continues.