Note: This article is from the Globe’s original online special section on the Spotlight investigation into clergy sex abuse.
As news broke in early 2002 of a clergy abuse coverup in the Boston Archdiocese, they began to come forward: Victims of abusive priests who had remained silent for years, ashamed to tell their stories or afraid they’d never be believed.
There was the Jamaica Plain mother who invited the Rev. John Geoghan into her home for years, unaware he was molesting her three young sons in their beds. And the Salem boys who were enticed by the Rev. Joseph Birmingham to take trips to the ice cream shop, only to be molested by the priest in his car.
Haunted by the abuse, many victims wrestled for years with depression and drug abuse. Some ended up in prison. Others committed suicide because of the abuse, according to their relatives. In Baltimore, one man turned with rage on his attacker, shooting the priest he claimed molested him.
By the end of 2002, at least 500 people had come forward with claims they were abused by Boston-area clergy, and the archdiocese faced millions of dollars in civil lawsuits.