March 1, 2016 11:39 am

Victims of clergy sexual abuse, real-life people portrayed in ‘Spotlight’ happy for Oscar win

WATCH ABOVE: Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian - played by Stanley Tucci in "Spotlight" - gives his thoughts on the film's BEst Picture win along with a real-life victim of clergy abuse.

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Victims of clergy sexual abuse and their legal representative are reveling in the Oscar won by “Spotlight” — the story of The Boston Globe’s investigation into the scandal — but say they don’t hold out much hope that the elevated status from the film’s Best Picture award will prompt changes at the highest levels of the Roman Catholic church.

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Spotlight,” starring Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo, covers the Globe’s work to uncover how dozens of priests in the Archdiocese of Boston had molested and raped children for decades while church superiors covered it up and shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish.

Attorney for clergy abuse victims, Mitchell Garabedian – played by Stanley Tucci in the film – is delighted with the movie’s Academy Award.

“Oh, I’m elated, I really think it’s quite a feat,” Garabedian said. “I think it’s fantastic. It gives a new voice to the victims, a very powerful voice for the victims and it keeps the whole matter of clergy sex abuse in the forefront of society — which is needed, for the protection of children.”

“Just this morning a new survivor contacted me and said ‘I wanna come forward now. I’ve been holding this in for decades, it’s time to do something about it.'” Garabedian continued, “And I’ve seen that trend since “Spotlight” came out. Because of ‘Spotlight‘, because of the strength and the power of “Spotlight,” the movie itself, survivors are now coming forward to find their own courage and strength to move forward and report the abuse and try to heal.”

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In his acceptance speech, “Spotlight” producer Michael Sugar said he hoped the Oscar would propel further change.

“This film gave a voice to survivors and this Oscar amplifies that voice which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican.” Sugar said. “Pope Francis, it’s time to protect the children and restore the faith”

However, clergy abuse victim Alexa McPherson, while also applauding “Spotlight“‘s win, has doubts that Sugar’s hope of change at the Vatican will be realised as a result.

“I think it has been resonating in their ears, for years at this point, but whether or not it propels them to put forth any true changes, I don’t think so, I have my reservations and I honestly don’t believe it will make a difference to the people in the Vatican because they just… they put themselves above the law that everyone else outside the Vatican has to abide by.”

The film was released in the U.S. in November to accolades from victims who said it gave them a sense of validation after years of struggling in silence. Even Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley — appointed to replace Cardinal Bernard Law after he resigned in disgrace — called “Spotlight” a “very powerful and important film.”

© 2016 The Associated Press

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