San Diego resident and consultant on ‘Spotlight’ says priest sex abuse still happening

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SAN DIEGO - "Spotlight" won Hollywood’s highest honor – taking home the Oscar for Best Picture Sunday night.  One of the most important players portrayed in the movie lives in San Diego.

The movie tells the true story of how Boston Globe investigative reporters exposed the sex abuse scandal involving priests and children within the Catholic Church.

“You're fighting Goliath and all you have in your sling is words and truth and you sling it... but the Roman is Goliath - bigger - and is not going to go down easily," Richard Sipe told FOX 5 Monday.

Sipe, a former Catholic priest who lives in La Jolla resident, has been collecting data on pedophile priests since the 60s.

“In the movie they use my words quoting me directly,” he said.

We only heard his character’s voice in the film by phone as he provides key statistical information to the team investigative reporters in 2001, as they expose the sex abuse scandal in Boston archdioceses. Sipes says there are thousands of these stories.

“The Bishop who is sodomizing a 12-year-old boy and telling him he's special and God makes special little boys and girls to please priests.”

In the film, the team uncovers 87 priests that were transferred from parish to parish, put on sick leave or otherwise hidden by the church after being accused of molesting young boys and girls. Their overall investigation found more than 200 cases - a number that fit with Sipe’s calculations of 6 to 9 percent of all priests.

“At least 17,000 people have come forward. It’s estimated there are 125,000 at the very least and 6400 priests have been have incredibly accused these are the Bishop's numbers of sexual abusers. We know that it's much more,” Sipe said.

He left the church in 1970 because he says he didn’t agree with many of the teachings and hypocrisy. He married his wife, Maryanne, a former nun.

While he says he’s happy “Spotlight’ is bringing awareness, the abuse is far from over and the church has not changed its ways. In the end he’s says the burden has been heavy not only emotionally, but also on his physical body.

“I am a victim because of all this and the church is not wanting to listen. The church is trying to cover this up and saying it's not happening. This happens and it is happening. They're just getting deeper and deeper into covering it up!” Sipe said.

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