Local clergy abuse victims say “Spotlight’s” Oscar helps the fight

Ventura County Star

By Tom Kisken of the Ventura County Star

Lee Bashforth wishes Oscar-winning “Spotlight” was made before he was molested at age 6 by a Catholic priest in the Conejo Valley.

“If this movie had been made 40 years ago, what happened to me would never have happened,” he said. “It’s that big of deal.”

The movie about The Boston Globe’s investigation of pedophile priests won best picture at the Academy Awards Sunday. Survivors said Monday the surprise victory helps their fight against clergy abuse.

“No pun intended but it puts our story back in the spotlight,” said Bashforth. He said he and his brother were molested by the Rev. Michael Wempe when the priest served at St. Jude Catholic Church in Westlake Village.

Wempe also served at other local parishes including St. Rose of Lima Church in Simi Valley, Sacred Heart Church in Ventura and St. Sebastian Church in Santa Paula. According to personnel records from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, he admitted molesting 13 boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

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