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artistic licence

Spotlight producers say dialogue attributed to one character was 'fictionalised'

Jack Dunn, who is portrayed in the film as conspiring with the Catholic Church to cover up abuse, said his portrayal was “personally devastating”.

THE DISTRIBUTOR OF the Oscar-winning film Spotlight has said that the filmmakers fabricated dialogue that made it appear as if a spokesman for Boston College had downplayed the extent of the Catholic Church child sexual abuse scandal.

Jack Dunn, who is portrayed in the film as conspiring with the Church to cover up abuse, said his portrayal was “personally devastating”.

The film about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the abuse scandal won the Oscar for best picture last month.

Dunn said contrary to what the film suggests, he has been an advocate for victims and even helped develop a plan to deal with the abuse crisis. He said he had been physically ill when he saw the film on the day it opened.

He hired a lawyer to demand that a scene depicting him be removed, although no lawsuit was ever filed.

Open Road Films, which said it couldn’t remove a scene from a film which has already been released, announced a settlement with Dunn this week that includes the public acknowledgement and donations to charities in Dunn’s name.

“As is the case with most movies based on historical events, Spotlight contains fictionalised dialogue that was attributed to Mr Dunn for dramatic effect,” Open Road said.

We acknowledge that Mr Dunn was not part of the archdiocesan cover-up.

Dunn, who was a student at the school in the 1970s, said he knew victims of abuse.

“To be portrayed in a film as being in-the-know about the clergy abuse scandal and indifferent to the suffering of the victims was personally devastating,” he said.

Dunn said that the four months since the film has been released have been “excruciatingly painful”.

“I felt vindicated by the public announcement and relieved to have been able to put this experience behind me,” he said.

The film

The scene in question was based on an interview with reporters that occurred at Boston College High School in 2002 after the all-boys Catholic school was informed that three former teachers had abused students during the 1970s. Dunn, an alumnus of the school, was at the time and still is on the school’s board of trustees.

At one point in the scene, Dunn, portrayed in the film by actor Gary Galone, says: “It’s a big school, Robby. You know that. And we are talking about seven alleged victims over, what, eight years?” The on-screen character later says: “This is ridiculous. You are reaching for a story here.”

- Additional reporting from AP

Read: Spotlight film shines light on Catholic Church abuses that are all too familiar > 

Read: A clerical child abuse survivor’s experience of the film Spotlight > 

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