Reporters Deny Church Bias

By Mark Melady
Telegram & Gazette [Worcester MA]
Downloaded April 10, 2003

WORCESTER - Three reporters who covered clergy sex abuse said the media have neither sensationalized the story nor shown any anti-Catholic bias in its coverage, and if anything have yet to uncover the breadth and depth of priest perversion.

"We don't have half the story,' Walter Robinson, lead reporter for the Boston Globe Spotlight Team, said at a panel discussion on media coverage of the scandal at the College of the Holy Cross last night.

The Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, which also owns the Telegram & Gazette, earlier this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the scandal.

Mr. Robinson said while the Globe had pretty well mined the Boston Diocese, local press should examine other dioceses for abuse and attempts to cover it up.

"Look at your own city here,' Mr. Robinson said of Worcester, a city he said would benefit from media competition. The Telegram & Gazette has reported many stories on alleged sexual abuse in the Worcester Catholic Diocese.

Also yesterday, Bishop Daniel P. Reilly of the Worcester Catholic Diocese was deposed concerning a civil lawsuit by a Shrewsbury man.

Sime M. Braio, 52, alleges in his against the Catholic Diocese of Worcester and Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger that he was sexually abused and raped by Bishop Rueger at age 13. Bishop Rueger, who in July flatly denied the accusations, testified in a deposition last week.

Peter Steinfels, veteran religious writer for the New York Times, said at the media forum last night that, "The first major failure was undercovering (clergy sex abuse).'

Mr. Steinfels, now a Times columnist, was referring to a mid-1980s story of clergy sexual abuse that was rejected by national magazines including the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.

The story was eventually broken in the National Catholic Reporter, which won recognition for its work but also lost 300 subscribers because of the story.

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