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I Uncovered Abuse in the Catholic Church. Why Was it Ignored? | ‘Almost Famous’ by Op-Docs


Nearly 20 years ago, an investigation by The Boston Globe into sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests ignited a firestorm of scandal that has traveled around the world. For many Americans, these shocking revelations — especially of the related cover-ups by the church — came out of nowhere, almost like a bolt of lightning. But the sobering reality is that this bolt of lightning had been striking for at least 15 years.

In May 1985, Jason Berry, a Catholic journalist in Louisiana, wrote his first piece on child sexual abuse in the church, for the National Catholic Reporter and the Times of Acadiana. Mr. Berry called himself a “reluctant muckraker,” but his exposé on the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe would prove to be only the first in a series of exhaustive investigations over the years, including his 1992 book, “Lead Us Not Into Temptation.” Mr. Berry appeared on national television programs like “Donahue” and “Oprah,” arguing that child sexual abuse had become “the Watergate of the Catholic Church.”

So why did it take another decade or more for this scandal to truly break? And when is a society willing to face facts that may already be sitting in plain sight? In Ben Proudfoot’s “The First Report,” Mr. Berry grapples with those questions and with what it means to spend years ringing an alarm bell that nobody is willing to hear.

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Director: Ben Proudfoot
Editor: David Faddis
Featuring: Jason Berry
Producers: Elizabeth Brooke, Abby Lynn Kang Davis, Gabriel Berk Godoi, Ben Proudfoot, Brandon Somerhalder, Sarah Stewart
Cinematographer: Brandon Somerhalder
Original Score Composed and Orchestrated by: Nicholas Jacobson-Larson
Co-Producer: Jeremy Lambert
Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer: Sean Higgins
Colorist: Stephen Derluguian
Post Production Supervisor: Dillon Brown
Post Production Coordinator: Laura Carlson
Cultural Consultant: David Faddis
Assistant Editor: Cody Wilson
Prop Graphic Designer: Brooke Granowski
Sound Designer: Alex Weiss
Second Unit Cinematographer: Haley Watson
Scoring Mixer: Erik Kertes
Musicians: Garth Neustadter, Nicholas Jacobson-Larson, Erik Kertes
Archival Digitization: Hannah Auslander
Story Reported By: Jaimie Woo

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Op-Docs is the New York Times’ award-winning series of short documentaries by independent filmmakers. Learn more about Op-Docs and how to submit to the series. Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@NYTopinion).

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