Oscar Ceremony Puts Spotlight On Sexual Abuse Survivors

By Tracy Lehr
March 1, 2016


Moviegoers will see Santa Barbara and other cities where priest sexual abuse occurred mentioned in the credits at the end of the film "Spotlight."

"The Spotlight story really is a microcosm of a much larger story that has taken place in nearly every major city in this country, including here in Santa Barbara where we have seen the scandal  at the Mission, at St. Anthony's Seminary, at Our Lady of Guadalupe at nearly every Catholic church around town," said attorney, Tim Hale.

Hale said awareness makes it easier for people to come forward and speak out about what they have been through. "Don't look to institutions to change their ways. The way to make children safer is to empower people to come forward and report to law enforcement," Hale said. 

Hale is already working on a similar case involving the Presbyterian church. He said a hearing is scheduled for next Monday.

Hale represents victims of abuse on the central coast including the son of Ray Higgins.

Higgins said his son turned to alcohol after being abused by two local priests when he was a boy.  His son is now and raising a family man out of state.

Higgens said his son has'nt seen Spotlight yet.

When Higgens saw the movie he said he felt emotionally drained because it was so accurate. "It should be seen by all parents and grandparents so they realize they need to protect their children in all circumstances even among trusted people," said Higgens.

Cast members Rachael McAdams and Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffallo were honored at Santa Barbara International Film Festival in early February.

McAdams said she is proud of how film is raising awareness about priest sex abuse.

Another Oscar contender put the spotlight on campus rape victims. Victims of sexual assaults on college campuses shared the Oscar stage with Lady Gaga during her performance of a nominated song from a documentary.

Gaga sang,  "It Could Happen To You;" the theme to The Hunting Ground.

The performance inspired UCSB student Meghan Brown to share it on social media."It is something that happens in college and I don't think people always realize how big an issue it is so I appreciate she did that on such a big stage," said Brown.

The documentary can be downloaded and the proceeds from the song are going to organizations that help campus rape victims.



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