Valuable Films on Child Sexual Abuse & Cover-Ups

Horowitz Law [Fort Lauderdale FL]

March 10, 2021

The more we learn about abuse, the better we’ll be able to stop it.

But relax, we’re not going to recommend that you read a book on the subject.  From first-hand knowledge, we know that can be hard. The topic is grim and reading detailed descriptions of what depraved adults do to children spelled out in black and white is almost more anyone can bear.

We at Horowitz Law recommend another way to educate yourself – films.

If you’ve read much of this blog, you know we’re big fans of the movie Spotlight, which stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup and Len Cariou (as Boston’s disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law).

In some ways, this award-winning film (Academy Award for Best Picture, 2016) is less about predators and victims and more about the dogged journalists whose investigations brought world-wide attention to crimes and corruption enabled by the Catholic hierarchy.

But Spotlight is far from the only documentary on this crisis. Among them:

Twist of Faith

This documentary focuses on Toledo firefighter Tony Combs who buys his first home for his young family, only to find out that one of his neighbors is Dennis L. Gray, the now-defrocked priest who molested him.

It’s available on Hulu and Pluto TV.

Mea Maxima Culpa

Directed by Alex Gibney, this film details the first known protest against clerical sex abuse in the US by four brave deaf survivors – Terry Kohut, Gary Smith, Pat Kuehn and Arthur Budzinski – and features the voices of actors Jamey Sheridan, Chris Cooper, Ethan Hawke and John Slattery, who provide the vocal translation of the deaf interviewees.

It exposes Fr. Lawrence Murphy, the priest who abused them during the mid-1960s at St. John’s School for the Wisconsin. The movie won three primetime Emmy awards.

Gibney’s works as director include Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (winner of three Emmys in 2015) and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (once New York’s governor before being brought down by a sex scandal).

Mea Maxima Culpa is available on HBO and Amazon.

—Deliver Us From Evil

In this powerful movie, a repeat offender talks openly of abusing more than 20 kids as he shuffled through northern California (and eventually to Ireland and Portugal).

The film features whistleblower and expert witness Fr. Tom Doyle, psychologist Dr. Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, Los Angeles deputy district attorney Bill Hodgman, former Governor Frank Keating, LA Cardinal Roger Mahony and one of the world’s most well-known serial predators, Fr. Oliver “Ollie” O’Grady.’Grady_Oliver_Francis.htm

It can be viewed for free using the app “Tubi.”

For a broader look at abuse and, believe it or not, a sometimes hilarious look at how a controversial comic dealt with it in Call Me Lucky.

Bobcat Goldthwait’s award-winning documentary “is the inspiring, triumphant and wickedly funny portrait of one of comedy’s most enigmatic and important figures: Barry Crimmins, a beer-swilling, politically outspoken and whip-smart comic.” He long suppressed horrific childhood sexual abuse by a babysitter.

The Boston Globe calls it “an incredible story of transformation from a rage-fueled funnyman into an acclaimed proponent of justice who personified the healing power of comedy.”

Interviews in the film include comedians David Cross, Margaret Cho, Patton Oswalt, Steven Wright, Billy Bragg, and activist Cindy Sheehan.

It’s available on Vudu TV and Amazon.

On this blog, we also recently plugged an expose about child sex crimes at a public high school.

And there are more abuse documentaries in the works.

Just recently, we tweeted about an upcoming film called A Peloton of One, which mentions Allentown Pennsylvania predator priest Fr. James F. Gaffney.

According to its producers, the film follows the journey of survivor Dave Ohlmuller as he cycles alone from Chicago, IL, to Montclair, NJ on his bike “to bring awareness of and to inspire action against” archaic, predatory-friendly statute of limitations laws “that serve to silence the victimized and empower the predators.”

Finally, actor George Clooney is working on a documentary on the Ohio State wrestling abuse scandal. In it, the question of whether US Congressman Jim Jordan helped an abusive trainer, Dr. Richard Strauss, keep hundreds of child sex crimes hidden

We find that in these films, we learn more about abuse and at the same time, see just how resilient and resourceful courageous survivors so often are.

Please spread the word to others who care about protecting the vulnerable and healing the wounded.