Summary of Spotlight Team Coverage in 2002  

In January 2002, the Spotlight Team of The Boston Globe began an investigative series on sexually abusive clergy in the Catholic Church.  Since then, the Spotlight Team has written hundreds of articles on the crisis.  While taking the lead in publicizing certain cases, Spotlight reporters have consistently refused to report the stories of female victims. In fact, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and many other mainstream newspapers have all published comprehensive stories on women who were victimized as children, but until December 27, after complaints from all sides forced its members to make a symbolic gesture, the Spotlight Team never profiled any female survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

Although experts believe that girls make up one third to one half of all victims of priests who prey on children, and nearly half of the members of major survivor groups are women, the Spotlight Team has repeatedly asserted that the vast majority of victims are boys, an unsupported claim that is especially troubling in view of the Vatican's attempts to blame the crisis on homosexual clergy.  Moreover, by hanging a males-only sign on the scandal, Spotlight reporters have made it harder for female victims to come forward and easier for predatory priests to walk away from their crimes.

While this web site began in response to the Globe's indifference to repeated complaints from women, gay men, and other groups, monitoring Globe coverage has uncovered a level of irresponsibility among both editors and reporters that extends beyond their mistreatment of female victims of clergy sexual abuse.  In addition to rudely dismissing almost all female survivors, the Globe has interfered with efforts to investigate allegations, derailed legal proceedings, and spread false information about important cases.  While the motivation for this journalistic misconduct is still unknown, this page will be updated as relevant information is revealed both directly by survivors and in the press.

Updates, 2003

2/16/03: More Contrasts:  Check out the gulf between the Globe's flattering profile of Bishop Richard Lennon, Cardinal Law's replacement, and the Herald's latest report on the way that the Boston Archdiocese is revictimizing victims. To get the whole picture, juxtapose Lennon's efforts to hide his involvement in reviewing sex abuse cases with revelations published months ago in the Herald: Lennon Tied to Priest Probe.

2/10/03: Leaving out women and focusing on the most troubled male victims led the Globe to present a profoundly distorted picture to the public all last year, but at least we can't accuse the Spotlight Team of inconsistency.  As evidenced by the Globe's retooling of its web page on victims, hostility toward survivors has been the most consistent feature of its coverage since the scandal broke. See Victims as Criminals? to find out more about this persistently biased approach.  Contrast the Globe's page with a more realistic view of survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

2/7/03: Excuses, Excuses: The Spotlight Team reveals why it under-reported female victims all last year In a front-page article, Church board dismissed accusations by females, Globe reporters Matt Carroll and Thomas Farragher used the announcement of a series of cases involving female victims to explain why the Spotlight Team refused to cover this aspect of the crisis throughout 2002.  Click here for new insight into Globe standards of investigative journalism.

1/15/03: Church claims new victim: Spotlight editor Walter V. Robinson duped by Archdiocese  Months ago, after Paul R. Edwards alleged that the late Rev. William J. Cummings and Monsignor Michael Smith Foster had sexually abused him during the 1980's, the Globe's Spotlight Team concluded that it was safe to annihilate the accuser because neither priest had ever been charged with abuse before.  The Globe proceeded to publish over a dozen articles that were designed to demolish Edwards' credibility.  Now, new information on Cummings has forced Spotlight editor Walter V. Robinson to take back some of the lies that he used to destroy Edwards and depict Foster as the poster priest of the falsely accused.  Click here to see Robinson's efforts to hide his misjudgments and shield himself from blame.

Updates, 2002

12/31/2002:  A Boston Herald investigation of Globe reports on Paul R. Edwards, who alleged that he had been abused by Monsignor Michael Smith Foster and the late Rev. William J. Cummings, shows that the Spotlight Team published false and misleading statements about the accuser.  Despite repeated complaints, the Globe has yet to correct any of its documented errors.  Instead, Spotlight reporter Matt Carroll has elected to perpetuate public confusion by drawing a distinction between "napping" with a half-naked priest and suffering genuine sexual abuse.  Click here to learn more about Carroll's surprising opinions on child molestation

12/27/02:  In the nick of time for the Pulitzer package, Spotlight reporter Sacha Pfeiffer finally manages to churn out what the Globe has defined as the "female victims story."  In the process, Pfeiffer can't help but document the damage done by the Globe's previous indifference to female survivors.  Read All About It: Globe Finds New Ways to Blame Old Victims

12/13/02:  A Boston Herald investigation of Paul R. Edwards' case against Monsignor Michael Smith Foster, the judicial vicar of the Archdiocese of Boston, opens a new window on the Spotlight Team's profound hostility towards victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Click here to read more about the Spotlight Team's concerted campaign to discredit Paul Edwards and protect Monsignor Foster.

Click here for Earlier updates

Review the Evidence:

Misreading Major Cases:

The Shanley-Porter Nexus

Manipulating News Reports:

Refusing to Name Names

Falling on Deaf Ears:

Unpublished Op-Ed

A "rather long to-do list:"

Globe Ombudsman Responds

A Tangle with Spotlight Editor Walter Robinson

 The Globe's Response So Far

When confronted with the Spotlight Team's failure to report on female victims, Christine Chinlund, the Globe's Ombudsman, responded that the women who have come forward have generally failed to provide compelling evidence of the crimes committed against them.  Likewise, after conferring with Spotlight reporters, Chinlund asserted that  the "overwhelming majority of provable victims are men."

The problem with Chinlund's response is not only that it contradicts expert opinion, but also that it fails to explain why so many other reporters in MassachuChristine Chinlundsetts and elsewhere have managed to track down so many credible female victims.  Also, since the Globe has not acknowledged any of the information provided by female survivors over the past year, we need to ask if the Spotlight Team holds women to a standard of credibility that differs from that applied to men.  Chinlund has, for example, claimed that the Spotlight Team "has for some time had the "female victims'' story on its rather long "to do" list. Some preliminary work has been done on the piece, and if further evidence can be found and confirmed, the team will write the piece."

Since female survivors have supplied the Spotlight Team with settlement documents, copies of correspondence, reports on the removal of abusive priests, written apologies by Church officials, and explicit admissions of guilt issued by members of the Church hierarchy, it is impossible to imagine what kind of evidence these journalists need to confirm our accounts.  Moreover, after reviewing evidence presented by women, the Spotlight Team ignored the information, not because it lacked credibility, but because it did not seem to meet Spotlight standards of salaciousness.  Meanwhile, in one case involving a female victim, Spotlight reporters went out of their way not to publish the name of a confirmed predator, even though one of them had explicitly promised to do so, and even though they knew that this priest had probably committed prosecutable crimes against children in Massachusetts. 

The Spotlight Team has not simply buried information supplied by female victims, it has failed to cover breaking news about priests who preyed on girls.  Thus, when Rev. Donald Bowen returned from Bolivia to face charges of sexually assaulting a girl from St. Mary's parish in Norton, Massachusetts during the late 1960's, television reporters and journalists from throughout the country gave the story the attention it deserved, but the case apparently evaded the selective radar of the Spotlight Team.  Similarly, when new lawsuits were filed against Robert E. Kelley, a former priest from Worcester, Massachusetts, Globe columnists commented on these developments, and news outlets from around the nation published multiple stories.  However, Spotlight reporters apparently concluded that the case was not worth investigating even though Kelley has admitted to raping somewhere between 50 and 100 girls.

If you would like to contact the Globe about this problem, here's how:

Mail can be sent to Letters to the Editor, The Boston Globe, P.O. Box 2378, Boston, MA 02107-2378. The email address is or use this form, making sure to include your full name, address and a telephone number for confirmation purposes.

You can also write to the Globe's ombudsman at

Click here to see letters that have already been published in the Globe.

Individual Stories from Around the Nation  List of hundreds in progress...

Miscellaneous Stories from the Globe

More Analysis of Spotlight Coverage  "We know that some of the consequences of sexual abuse include a defiance of authority, engaging in high-risk behavior, and substance abuse, so it's not a great leap to see how somebody who has been abused could run afoul of the law."

Click here to see updates on omissions and distortions in Globe reports The Campaign Against Paul Edwards; Covering the Cover-UP; Debating the Gay Issue; A World Without Girls, +

General Reports on Female Victims From the New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Herald, The Kansas City Star...

Blaming Gays: What Happens When Women Are Left Out  Let's get the story straight...

Stories on Female Victims from Massachusetts

Women's Stories from Around the Nation List in progress...


The Shanley-Porter Nexus 

Unpublished Op-Ed   

 Refusing to Name Names

 Globe Ombudsman Responds



Link to Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP)

Canadian Survivors Network

Poynter Clergy Abuse Tracker

Survivors First

The Linkup

Message from Women Who Belong to New England Snap


Note: This site is a work-in-progress.  Please e-mail for more information