Sexual Assault Victim from Best Picture Winner "Spotlight" Visits Utah to Discuss Abuse
By Chris Miller
April 7, 2016
The movie "Spotlight" won the Academy Award this year for Best Picture. It shined a light on sexual abuse and the importance of exposing it.
The film was based on the real life experiences of Phil Saviano, who was in Utah Wednesday, to attend a screening of the movie at the Salt Lake City Library and to encourage other victims to come forward.
"I'm finding that a lot of people want to talk to me and I do have some interesting stories to tell," says Saviano, whose business card describes him as a "survivor" and "whistleblower". "I was molested, assaulted repeatedly when I was 11 and 12-years-old."
Saviano first told his story to the Boston Globe in 1992 and worked with investigative journalists for a decade to expose widespread allegations of sexual abuse within the clergy of the Catholic Church.
"I gave them names of 13 priests in Boston and another 14 priests in the next diocese over, who I knew were child molesters, but whose names had never appeared in the newspaper," he says.
With its recent Oscar, the film has become a huge success and has raised global awareness for sexual abuse.
"It's a great vindication for all my efforts, but not only my efforts, but none of these reporters would have any stories to write about if other survivors hadn't found the courage to talk about their own experiences," said Saviano.
Now the film is encouraging more victims to come forward.
"People have been inspired, frustrated, they've become angry," says Barbara Dorris, Victim's Advocate Director for S.N.A.P., a national network for people who have been abused. "This isn't a problem from the past. This is ongoing. We're hearing from people who have been abused in the last few years."
Phil says this is the reason he chose to speak up 15 years ago about the abuse he suffered as a child.
"Ultimately we hope the more that victims speak, the more the general population knows about this issue and the more likely it is to be put to a stop."