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Key reports from Globe’s Spotlight team on clergy sex abuse

Former priest John J. Geoghan leaving his family home in Scituate in November. Jim Davis / Globe Staff

The Boston Globe’s 2001-2002 investigation into sexual abuses by clergy in the Catholic Church resulted in more than 600 stories, with eight Globe reporters playing key roles. The first history-changing report was the work of Spotlight editor Walter V. Robinson, and reporters Sacha Pfeiffer, Michael Rezendes, and Matt Carroll. As the scope of the story widened, four other reporters joined the effort: Stephen Kurkjian, Thomas Farragher, Michael Paulson, and Kevin Cullen.

Here is a sampling of their work:

1. This Globe column by Eileen McNamara got the investigation rolling when new Globe editor Martin Baron read it in July 2001 and asked the Spotlight Team to pursue a wider look at abusive priests and what the church leadership knew.


2. The story that changed everything: The Spotlight Team’s first major report, published Jan. 6, 2002.

3. A few weeks later, the Spotlight Team widened the horrifying picture to include scores of priests.

4. A fascinating look inside the culture of the priesthood, where there were long whispers about clergy suspected of abuse.

5. An examination of the lawyers who for years negotiated settlements that won some solace for clergy abuse victims, but also kept the matter secret.

6. The demise of the tradition, deeply ingrained in Boston culture, of deference to the church.

7. A critical turning point occurred in December 2002 when 58 priests in the Boston Archdiocese signed a petition for Law to step down or be removed.

8. Cardinal Bernard Law finally resigns and departs.