Walter V. Robinson Biography
Walter V. Robinson (born January 13, 1946) is an American investigative reporter for The Boston Globe, where he has worked as reporter and editor for 34 years. From 2007 to 2014, he was a Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston. Robinson currently holds the title of Editor-at-Large at the Boston Globe, as well as the Donald W. Reynolds Visiting Professor of Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and a Professor of Practice at Northeastern University.
Robinson led the Globe’s coverage of the Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal, for which the newspaper won, and he personally accepted, the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The last investigation Robinson led for the Spotlight Team, called “Debtors Hell”, exposed the practices of debt collectors.
That work was a finalist for the Local Reporting Pulitzer in 2007. The Pulitzer Board cited the staff’s “well-documented exposure, in print and online, of unscrupulous debt collectors, causing two firms to close and prompting action by state officials.” Robinson has reported for The Boston Globe from 48 states and more than 30 countries.
Robinson graduated from Boston College High School and Northeastern University. In the 1960s, Robinson interrupted his college studies to join the Army. He has commissioned a Second Lieutenant in January 1968. After two years in Hawaii, then Captain Robinson served as an intelligence officer with the First Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam from 1970-1971.
During his Globe career, he was a local, state, and national political reporter. Robinson has covered and written extensively about the World War II-era looting of thousands of pieces of cultural artworks from German institutions. He covered four presidential elections, in 1984, 1988, 1992, and 2000.
Robinson covered the White House for the Globe during the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. In 1990 and 1991, he was the Globe’s Middle East Bureau Chief and covered the first Persian Gulf War.
Robinson was the Globe’s city editor from 1992 to 1993, and assistant managing editor for local news from 1993 to 1996. He was the paper’s roving national and foreign correspondent from 1997 to 1999. During his Globe career, Robinson reported from more than 30 foreign countries and 48 states.
As assistant managing editor for investigations, he ran the newspaper’s investigative Spotlight Team for seven years, until 2006. In 1998, he became the first recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Award for Outstanding Public Service.
While a professor at Northeastern, Robinson started the Initiative for Investigative Reporting. Students who took his seminar in Investigative Reporting produced twenty-six investigative stories published by the Globe.
Robinson has been a journalism fellow at Stanford University and has received honorary degrees from Northeastern University and Emerson College in Boston.
Walter V. Robinson Age
Walter V. Robinson is an American investigative reporter for The Boston Globe, where he has worked as reporter and editor for 34 years. He was born on January 13, 1946, in Boston, MA. He is 73 years old as of 2019
Every attorney general in the country must force the Catholic Church to tell the truth
By Walter V. Robinson, August 30, 2018, 2:54 p.m.
Walter V. Robinson is editor-at-large of the Globe. He led the Spotlight Team’s investigation that uncovered the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal.
It is often said that for the Roman Catholic Church, rapid change can take decades. But who knew that law enforcement officials with subpoena power could be equally slow in recognizing their responsibility to bring into full light the hideous crimes by the church that have laid waste to the lives of tens of thousands of children?
Sixteen years later — too much later — it is now time for a full and final reckoning. In the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, prosecutors in every state should finally find the backbone to force the church to tell the truth. The truth we can handle. It is the endless cover-up we must no longer abide.
Until recently, few could have credibly argued — as some are now trying — that Pope Francis and his point man on the sexual abuse scandal, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, should resign. They were, after all, the two men in the Vatican who seemed committed to cauterizing the wounds from a scandal that spools endlessly along.
But in light of recent allegations about how, or whether, they dealt with the serial sexual misdeeds of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, their reputations, if not their jobs, are in jeopardy.
Since 2002, when the scandal first broke open, attorneys general in just four states — Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts — and a handful of local prosecutors have used subpoena power to force the church to turn over complete records of clerical crimes.
In 46 states, there has been no full accounting: The cover-up continues uninterrupted. It now seems likely that the crimes of several thousand more priests remain hidden.
The recent evidence is nothing if not gut-
wrenching. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury scraped clean the records from six dioceses. Its report found that 301 priests had been credibly accused of sexually molesting more than 1,000 children and that — no surprise — the dioceses, all using the same playbook, kept it hidden for decades.
It was the bishops who enabled and sometimes facilitated the abuse. I have interviewed scores of survivors of clerical abuse over the years, but reading the horrific details of sexual assault in the report left me choked up.
In his report, Shapiro takes note of the Boston Globe’s 2002 and 2003 reporting that disclosed the enormity of the abuse and the extensive cover-up by three cardinals and more than a dozen bishops. The Boston disclosures, Shapiro’s report says, represent “a fraction of what we’ve found in Pennsylvania.’’
Not so. In late 2002, when it was still politically risky to take on the church, Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly convened a grand jury to do his own investigation. In July 2003, he reported that 237 priests in the Boston Archdiocese alone had sexually molested children. Before Reilly’s investigation, the Spotlight Team had already found evidence that at least 161 priests were culpable.
Those 237 priests in Boston represent 10 percent of all the priests who served in the diocese.
In the handful of cases where grand juries, like Shapiro’s and Reilly’s, have forced the church to cooperate, the resulting findings have dwarfed what the church had previously admitted. Consider the numbers. Reeling from the disclosures in 2002, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops encouraged all of the country’s 195 dioceses to report how many of its priests had been credibly accused.
In the six Pennsylvania dioceses that were examined by Shapiro’s grand jury, the bishops in 2004 reported 143 priests. When Shapiro got the records, it turned out to be 301. Some of the difference — but not much — can be attributed to the small number of priests who have been accused since 2004. Most of the different amounts to deliberate underreporting.
In 2002 and 2003, when my Spotlight colleagues and I traveled to other states to speak about the revelations in Boston, the reaction we often got went something like this: Is there something in the water in Boston that made so many priests molest children? No, we’d say. It’s the same in your state — probably 10 percent of your priests too. It’s just that your cover-up continues.
Terry McKiernan, who for 15 years now has tracked the abuse, nationally and worldwide, diocese by diocese, as president of BishopAccountability.org, said he believes that full investigations in every state will show that well over 10,000 priests abused children over several decades.
That would be as many as 4,000 more than the church has acknowledged. For Catholics who want all the secrets exposed, McKiernan’s tiny nonprofit represents an investment opportunity with a guaranteed return.
Reilly, who had to issue subpoenas to force the Boston Archdiocese to cooperate, said this week that what he and Shapiro found 15 years apart should shock no one. “Wherever any prosecutor looks, he or she will find the same thing,’’ Reilly said.
He added: “To this day, the church is not sincere about addressing this.’’This month, O’Malley said that from now on, American bishops should turn over their records to civil authorities — “when asked.’’ Until now, asking has not worked very well. Only a demand that is delivered with a grand jury subpoena will get the records.
Which brings me to O’Malley and Pope Francis. That they might talk the talk but not walk the walk should also come as no surprise. On this issue, they’ve promised much but delivered little. More recently, Pope Francis has been all but tone-deaf, most notably with his ham-handed statements about sexual abuse in Chile.
Then there is the inexplicable treatment of McCarrick. Pre the #MeToo movement, McCarrick was a red-hatted Harvey Weinstein, sexually exploiting young seminarians and priests. It was, we now know, not exactly a secret among many of McCarrick’s peers.
Yes, the accusation that Pope Francis knew about these forced trysts and did nothing comes from an embittered archbishop who — not alone — wants to bring down the pope. But what of the accusation itself? It strains credulity to believe Francis did not know. And he has not denied it.
As for O’Malley, he claims he knew nothing about a 2015 letter his top aide received about McCarrick. Really? In 2002, some theologians declared the scandal to be the church’s most serious crisis since the Reformation. It has now morphed into a catastrophe with the potential to be far worse than that historic schism.
In our lifetimes, there have been few cataclysmic moments when the gulf between good and evil has been so wide and so evident. And the evil resides solely in the top reaches of a church in which a billion or more of us were born, baptized, confirmed, and married. And taught to revere the sanctity of life.
It is a betrayal of staggering dimensions.
For many Catholics, it is no longer a question of whether the church can recover from this. The question is now more terrifying: Can the church as we know it survives intact?
Walter V. Robinson can be reached at
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Walter V. Robinson Photo
Walter V. Robinson Wife, Children
Jessica Boyd Robinson and Michael David Gemm were married yesterday at the Harrison Otis Apthorp Chapel on the campus of Milton Academy in Massachusetts. The ceremony was led by Stephen A. Kurkjian, a friend of the bride’s family, who received permission from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to officiate.
The bride and bridegroom both are directors of College Summit, a nonprofit organization in Washington that seeks to increase college enrollment rates in low-income areas. She directs human resources; he is in charge of identifying new communities in which the organization can introduce its program.
Ms. Robinson, 29, is keeping her name. She graduated from the University of Chicago. She is the daughter of Barbara A. Wojtklewicz and Walter V. Robinson of Milton.
Her father retired as an assistant managing editor at The Boston Globe and is now a distinguished professor of journalism at Northeastern University. Her mother, a registered nurse, works at the Martha Eliot Health Center in Boston.
Mr. Gemm, 31, graduated from Indiana University and received an M.B.A. from Notre Dame. He is a son of Susan S. Giovati and Mark W. Emmons of Perrysburg, Ohio. Mr. Emmons is a freelance audio technician for sporting events on cable television. The bridegroom’s surname is derived from the first letter of his mother’s surname and the first three letters of his father’s.
Walter V. Robinson Accolades
Besides the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, The Boston Globe also received the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting from Harvard University, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, the Selden Ring Award, and the Worth Bingham Prize, all for its coverage of the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases.
Robinson won the inaugural Archaeological Institute of America Award for outstanding public service in 1998, recognizing his work on the trade in antiquities, and looting archaeological sites for profit. At the same time (1997–1998), Robinson had covered the trade and display in museums of artworks looted by Nazis during World War II.
Robinson was portrayed by Michael Keaton in the 2015 film Spotlight, the winner for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards.
Walter V. Robinson Net Worth
Walter V. Robinson, Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Investigative Journalism
Walter V. Robinson is a veteran investigative reporter and editor, who led the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning report on the Roman Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, recounted in the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight.”
As the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Investigative Journalism, Robinson teaches an investigative journalism class for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. He also works with reporters in Cronkite News, the student-staffed, professionally led news division of Arizona PBS.
During 34 years at the Globe, Robinson spent seven years at the helm of the Spotlight Team, which won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its comprehensive investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
The investigation, which exposed a decades-long cover-up that shielded the crimes of nearly 250 priests, was made into the film “Spotlight,” which won 2015 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
Robinson joined the Globe in 1972 and went on to report on politics and government before covering the White House during the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. He has covered four presidential elections and was the lead Globe reporter for the 1988 and 1992 elections.
In 1990 and 1991, Robinson was the newspaper’s Middle East Bureau chief during the first Persian Gulf War. He went on to be the Globe’s city editor in 1992 and then the metro editor for three years.
In the late 1990s, he was the Globe’s roving foreign and national correspondent and spent much of that time reporting on artworks looted by the Nazis during World War II that ended up in American museums. For his reporting on the illicit trade in antiquities, Robinson was awarded the Archaeological Institute of America’s first-ever outstanding public service award in 1999.
From 2007-2014, Robinson was a distinguished professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston. His investigative reporting students produced 26 Page One investigative story for The Boston Globe. He returned to the Globe in 2014 as an editor-at-large.
Robinson served four years in the U.S. Army, including a year in Vietnam as an intelligence officer with the 1st Cavalry Division.
Robinson is a 1974 graduate of Northeastern University and has been awarded honorary degrees by his alma mater and Emerson College. He was a journalism fellow at Stanford University and is the co-author of the 2002 book, “Betrayal: Crisis in the Catholic Church.” His pieces of information about net worth are not yet revealed but are ready for the update soon