On his first day on the job in July 2001, Globe editor Martin Baron stopped by the desk of Eileen McNamara, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. A week earlier, on July 29, 2001, McNamara had published a column about the Boston Archdiocese’s silence on three Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children. One line, in particular, had irked Baron. McNamara had wondered whether an accused priest’s superiors had known about his crimes. Court documents were sealed. “The public,” she concluded, “has no way of knowing.”
McNamara recalls Baron standing over her desk: “Why don’t we find out,” he said.
Spotlight’s investigation of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church did not begin with a tip or newly obtained document, as so many investigations do. Instead, it started when a new