“SPOTLIGHT” Details From a Man Who Lived Through It

By | February 19, 2016


The film “Spotlight” will be available for rent on February 23.  I am eagerly looking forward to viewing it.  The film was only shown once in the UAE and that was at the Dubai Film Festival.  The viewing was at an hour which was passed my bedtime, so I wasn’t able to see it! Everyone I know who has seen the film has really liked it, and it has won several awards.

We Protestants are living through our own version of “Spotlight.” In the last few weeks, TIME and the Washingtonian have published stories detailing the sexual abuse scandal in the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination.  A few men have been convicted of crimes and there are several more men that should face criminal charges for their participation in the sexual abuse scandal and resulting conspiracy to cover-up the abuse. Not unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the “priests” of the Neo-Calvinist wing of American Evangelicalism have largely remained silent, and some continue to participate in conferences with C.J. Mahaney, the former “Pope” if you will, of the Sovereign Grace denomination.

2016-02-19 Spotlight release date

A few days ago a man named Danny Murphy contacted me. He had been reading some of our posts and thought I would be interested in reading a blog post he had authored.  I clicked on the link he provided and read his story. Indeed, I did find it very interesting. I emailed Danny back and asked his permission to reproduce his story on this blog.  He was kind enough to grant me permission.

Danny is about my age and grew up in Boston.  He lived through the era which the film “Spotlight” was based on and he knew some of the victims of sexual abuse and also one of the pedophile priests. Thank God Danny was not victimized.  I am also happy Danny has shared his story, it gives us further insight into how a criminal predator operates. We all need to be vigilant to guard the welfare of not only our children but also the children in our community.

Danny Murphy

Danny Murphy

2016-02-19 Father James F. Talbot

2016-02-19 Just heads of T4G speakers
 Below is Danny Murphy’s article. You can find the original article on his blog site here. 
I would also encourage you to click on the link near the end of Murphy’s story for another interesting article.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Spotlight – Inside The Locker Room
The story of a priest, a boy, and a soccer ball.
By Danny Murphy
Spotlight, the movie, is about the Boston Globe’s investigation of the pedophile priest scandals. I went to the movie wondering if there would be any mention of Boston College High (B.C. High), the school I graduated from in 1978, and James Talbot, the coach of the soccer and hockey teams. There had been stories about Talbot in the Boston Globe’s Spotlight series, but not nearly as many as there were about John Geoghan or Paul Shanley.
Boston Globe headquarters on Morrissey Blvd.

Boston Globe headquarters on Morrissey Blvd.

To my surprise, Talbot and B.C. High were featured prominently in the film. Jack Dunn, who graduated a year after me and who worked in Public Relations for the school at the time the scandal was breaking, was portrayed. He has claimed in news stories that the depiction of him in the movie was very unfair. Walter Robinson, the editor played by Michael Keaton, was a B. C. High graduate as well.

Father Talbot was an impressive soccer coach. Although I never took any of his classes, I heard he was an effective teacher. In 1978, he starred in the senior play and he was hilarious. Talbot had a simple policy about who could join the soccer team. Anyone who was willing to do the work – and it was a lot of work – could play. Although I wasn’t much of an athlete, I was on the J.V. team for two years.

Most of the players on the team had never even kicked a soccer ball till they got to high school. We competed and did well against teams where the boys had been playing since they’d learned to walk. Fr. Talbot frequently told us we might encounter teams with more talent and skill, but we would never run into a team that was in better shape than we were.

Talbot’s nickname was Mad Dog, and everyone in the school knew there was something off about him. Among other things, he wanted his players to play aggressively. It was one more way to get an edge against more talented teams. Mad Dog ran what he called “aggression drills” in practices. Those drills involved two players wrestling in the dirt or the mud for a soccer ball. Most of the players did turn out to be aggressive on the field.

During the off-season, there were workouts in the locker room. In the sessions I went to, there were eight players, or so, in gym shorts and tee shirts. Sometimes we put on gloves and headgear, and we boxed. More frequently, we engaged in a form of fighting Mad Dog referred to as “street fighting.” It involved wrestling, punching to the body, and open-handed slapping to the face.

Wrestling mats were laid out on the floor and we all paired off, four players on one side and four on the other. You would fight one guy for a minute or two, switch spots and fight the next guy. Sometimes Mad Dog was right in there with us. Sooner or later, everybody ended up fighting him too.

I’m 5’6″ and Mad Dog was a bit shorter. However, he was quite strong, and he knew how to wrestle. When I got paired up with him, he took it easy on me at first. When I saw an opening, I wound up and smacked him on the cheek, which was allowed by his rules. The locker room got quiet. After a moment of silence, Mad Dog said, “It’s not nice to hit a priest.” Then he pretty much wrapped me up like a pretzel.

I heard about summer sessions where the street fighting was in jock straps. I also heard about Mad Dog fighting guys in private in the locker room. I never was invited to any of those summer sessions or to go one-on-one with him in the locker room. Maybe I wasn’t his type, or maybe I was just lucky.

I once had a conversation with a tough kid who had been down to the locker room for a private session with Mad Dog. When I asked him how it had gone, he quietly said, “He screwed me.” At the time I assumed he meant that Mad Dog had kicked his butt. I didn’t ask for details or clarification. It was spooky though – a haunting conversation from decades ago that I never have forgotten.

As I’ve already mentioned, everyone in the school, students and faculty, knew that Mad Dog Talbot was whacked out. His superiors had to have some idea of how whacked out he was. However, nobody put a stop to him. Instead of protecting the young men at that school, Mad Dog’s superiors protected their predator, their church, and themselves.

They took a road too frequently traveled. After trouble of some kind arose, they shipped him off to another school in Maine where he committed more crimes. That was part of his undoing because the clock on the statute of limitations (thirty-six months) for his crimes in Massachusetts stopped ticking when he moved out of the state.

From what I understand, in Mad Dog’s case, a lot of the evidence of his crimes was in his personnel files. The church fought hard not to give those up. In 2005, shortly after Suffolk Superior Court ordered the church to turn the files over, Talbot pleaded guilty. He was then sentenced to five to seven years.

Fr. James Talbot, S.J., was a popular teacher. The teams he coached won consistently. On the other hand, he was Mad Dog, a pathological predator dressed up as a priest.

2016-02-19 Just heads of T4G speakers

Further Reading:

2015-06-10 Mortal Sins


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I also played for Fr Talbot for three years in the late 70’s. I started as a freshman and played varsity soccer for him for three years. I was told by the upper classmen that if Talbot asks you to wrestle you have to tell him NO. It was a well known fact that he wrestled kids in their jocks and giving them beers to help them loosen up was a frequent occurrence. All I have to say is that the Hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and the manner in which they turned a blind eye has forever left a taste in my mouth that I’ll never be able to get rid of. I trusted these men with my life. I hope they rot in hell. The fact that the church shelter a criminal, Bernard Law, under their most sacred vestibule,The Vatican , sickens me. I cannot sit in church without looking at the system that allowed this to happen and feel like somehow the head of the dragon still sits in the Vatican. I realize that not all of them were or are like these cowards but it was more than a few bad apples. This was trees of bad apples. I know I seem anger and I am. It’s just that I’ve never expressed myself to anyone until seeing this movie and reliving that time period of my life. I fell better for venting. Thank You.

John, thanks for sharing. I hope you find some peace with what happened to you even though I know that’s tough and perhaps not always entirely possible. Please know that stories such as yours help motivate advocates such as myself to keep getting the word out about the danger of directly or indirectly enabling abuse in Churches or other religious groups everywhere.

I continue to be surprised by how many people in religious organizations, in general, become aware of abuse and twist their understanding of their religious beliefs to prioritize loyalty to an institution over doing the right thing. To me, using one’s spiritual authority to justify covering up the gang rape of a child seems almost unforgivable, for example.

Take care. Janna


I played for that lunatic as well. I watched the movie last night and I was stunned cold when Talbot and BC High appeared in the story line. I moved to CA 25 years ago and haven’t read the Boston Press since. I had no idea that Mad Dog was a sexual predator until last night.

He was a cruel sadist. I broke my ankle during a game my sophomore year. Talbot thought I was off-balance (a big no-no as you might remember). So he decided to punish me by forcing me to walk around field on my broken ankle. Not walk across the field to the bench, but walk around the entire extremity of the field to the bench. And by-the-way asshole, no one is allowed to help or even talk to you. I almost passed out from the pain. My leg was a numb stump when I was done.

That caused some serious medical damage so my family went to Gibbons and threatened to sue if BC High didn’t do anything about him, Shortly after – he was gone. At the time, I was pissed they just moved him to another school. I was mortified when I realized they were moving around a sexual predator – not just a dwarf-sadist.

I’m glad we dodged the bullet from that psycho. I am so sorry for my schoolmates who suffered so badly. There isn’t a place hot enough in hell for those who covered it up. Mad Dog will have his day.

Thank you for the kind comments, Bill M.

Bill M

Danny Murphy’s post was a good read so I visited his blog and found he has diverse interests. One of his posts began with a statement that is a good counterpoint to the grim material of this post:

“People talk about taking time to smell the roses, but I think it’s just as important to look for humor and opportunities to laugh.”

Thanks Danny and I’m glad you didn’t have to endure an assault from Mad Dog Talbot.