A recently released American drama film depicting The Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative team of journalists into the Massachusetts Catholic sex abuse crimes is not on a movie play list in Chatham.
Rob Talach, a London lawyer, is trying to reverse that decision.
Talach said he strongly urged officials at Galaxy Cineplex, which operates a movie theatre in Chatham, to show the movie locally, but was told Spotlight was not on its distribution plan.
“Chatham-Kent has been the epicentre (of Catholic sex abuse scandals) with one of the worst cases – (Charles Henry) Sylvestre and a number of other priests,” Talach told The Daily News.
In a Chatham court in 2006, Sylvestre pleaded guilty to indecent assault against 47 young girls and was sentenced to three years in prison.
The Crown attorney, at the time, called it North America's largest case of non-residential school sex abuse by a Roman Catholic priest.
The 83-year-old died just three months into his prison term.
A partner at Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers, Talach has represented numerous victims of historic Catholic clergy sex abuse in civil matters, with many offences having happened in Chatham-Kent.
The film Spotlight was released to London audiences on Nov. 20 and Talach said his law firm offered a free public viewing of the acclaimed feature film.
Talach said the movie tells a powerful story of media, a pillar of a democratic society, unravelling grave circumstances which the entire society was covering up.
The film is based on a true story uncovered by The Boston Globe, which won the newspaper a 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
The newspaper’s investigative unit, called Spotlight, exposed the cover-up of Catholic clergy in Massachusetts who were sexually abusing children, only to be transferred to other parishes when complaints were filed with their superiors.
Talach said at the end of the film there is a long list of other locations where Catholic sex scandals have been also been uncovered.
He said the list includes the entry ‘Chatham Canada.’
The film underscores the importance of vigilance to improve legal and institutional responses to sexual abuse, Talach said.
"I want to get this movie to Chatham, even if I rent an auditorium when it comes out on DVD, to get it out," Talach said.
"This isn't an historical problem, this is still going on," he said.
Published on December 4, 2015