First-Person Account of Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: Survivor Speaks

With the launch of the Spotlight movie, a film about the Boston Globe's exposure of systemic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, one of our clients, Mike Sweeney, speaks out about his experience as a survivor.

In this open and frank account, Sweeney describes the abuse he suffered at St Bede's Catholic Grammar School in Manchester from the ages of 12 to 14, as well as its impact on his career prospects and relationship with his family. The claims against St Bede’s date back to the 1950s and 1960s and feature other pupils at the school and across the Manchester diocese—an archipelago of past, buried abuse that mirrors the claims in the Oscar-bound film Spotlight.

Senior Associate Kathleen Hallisey has been working with Mike Sweeney to help him seek justice, and as Sweeney hopes, "close the file and say that’s the end of that". As Hallisey notes, "despite what Pope Francis has said about supporting victims and setting up a committee to investigate child abuse, that doesn't seem to be trickling down to litigation, so that in our cases the abuse has been questioned . . . and they're taking our clients to court". She urges the Catholic Church to release all documents about paedophile priests and everybody who knew about them, to hold accountable those who covered up abuse "and by doing so exposed other victims".

Listen to the audio below to hear Mike Sweeney and Kathleen Hallisey's account:

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Music is by Aleixandre Navarro. "Lost Cities". It is hosted on a website that provides music for creative commons use.