Acclaimed TVO Original “Prey” puts a spotlight on sexual abuse by clergy in Canada

On November 19 at 9 pm ET, TVO presents the world broadcast and online premiere of TVO Original Prey on TVO and The acclaimed feature documentary from filmmaker Matt Gallagher is a moving and unflinching account of a sexual abuse survivor’s legal fight against the Catholic Church in Ontario.

Prey is a very special documentary,” says John Ferri, TVO Vice-President of Current Affairs and Documentaries. “It tells a story that has been too often swept under a legal rug. And it does so in the most compelling way, balancing compassion with a righteous anger.”

Prey, the fifth film from Matt Gallagher commissioned by TVO, won the Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary and the DGC Special Jury Prize for Best Canadian Feature Documentary at the 2019 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. The film follows Rod MacLeod, the plaintiff, and lawyer Rob Talach, aka ‘The Priest Hunter,” as they pursue a civil case against the Basilian order of the Catholic Church through a public trial. Fifty years ago, as a boy, Rod MacLeod was sexually abused by Basilian priest, Father Hod Marshall. Most civil, clergy sex abuse cases are settled quietly out of court and far from public view. But MacLeod is determined to be the one plaintiff who does not settle.

Complicating the case, Father Marshall, who was a teacher in Sudbury, Toronto and Windsor, and who sexually abused at least 17 minors over the course of 38 years, died in 2014 at age 92. But not before he recorded a confession on video. The trial, in this case, is not about guilt or innocence, but about how much the church should pay in compensation for the devastating fallout from the abuse. More importantly for Rod, it is about exposing the truth of how and why the sexual abuse of children could go on for so long without the church stopping it.

“The sheer scope of the abuse uncovered in these stories is chilling enough on its own,” says Matt Gallagher. “But the power of the secret held by these survivors, and the doubt and even blame they encountered when they began to talk, that’s an extra ordeal that’s hard to imagine.”

Prey will be available to stream anytime across Canada on beginning November 19 at 9 pm and will rebroadcast on TVO November 21 and 23 at 9 pm.