Local victim depicted in ‘Spotlight’ discusses decision to go public

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local spotlight survivor Jim Scanlan_267731

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — At the Academy Awards Sunday, “Spotlight” – which portrays the Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic church’s cover-up of sexual abuse by members of the clergy – was crowned best picture.

A key figure in the film, who went by the alias “Kevin from Providence,” spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News Monday.

His real name is Jim Scanlan.

For the film, he said he wanted to remain anonymous because as a student at Boston College High School, he was raped by Jesuit priest James Talbot.

Scanlan told his story to the Boston Globe and was a key figure in helping reporters expose the truth.

When “Spotlight” was released, Scanlan revealed his true identity so he could help others.

In his first ever television interview, Eyewitness News asked him was it was like to be portrayed in a film that just won Best Picture.

“The win was incredible, and frankly, it was the first time I watched to the end of the Academy Awards,” he said. “It was exciting.”

According to Scanlan, he was invited to see the film in a private screening before it was released.

“They brought a few of us in at the end of October… it was nice,” he said. “It gave us a chance to see the movie, kind of in private, and let the emotions kind of take over from there.”

Scanlan said being able to privately view the extremely personal film was helpful to him.

When asked why he decided to come forward with his true identity, Scanlan said he realized he didn’t have anything to be ashamed of.

“Seeing the movie sort of opened my eyes to the fact that I had nothing to be ashamed of for all of these years.

Going through the process with the Globe, as I mentioned, I wanted to be anonymous and just realizing how complicit the church leadership was and how systemic it was.

You realize, ‘I shouldn’t be the one with the shame – these predators should be the ones with the shame.’

I felt like, had I been mugged in a park, I would not be ashamed to tell anyone and the only way this stuff stops is by people coming forward, so I thought coming forward would help and I hope it has.”

According to Scanlan, since he announced his identity, he’s had well over 100 people call him to share their stories of abuse. He said it has helped him – and others – to heal.

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