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More jail for pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale
One of Australia’s worst pedophile priests Gerald Francis Ridsdale has had eight years added to his prison term.
Ridsdale, 79, will not be eligible for parole until April 2019 after pleading guilty to 30 new charges against 14 boys and girls between 1961 and 1980.
Victorian County Court Chief Judge Michael Rozenes said many of Ridsdale’s victims were extremely vulnerable - some being wards of the state or from broken homes.
Ridsdale used his position in the Catholic church to facilitate his offending, which constituted a blatant breach of trust, he said.
Ridsdale portrayed himself as the “friendly priest”, luring his victims with inducements such as lollies and money to gain their trust.
He befriended the victims and set up an after-school boys gathering that he used to abuse five of the victims.
Victims were warned against telling anybody about the abuse.
Ridsdale told one girl she would never be believed.
He said to another, an altar boy, that the abuse was a secret between them.
“You know not to talk about the game we have played,” the priest said.
One girl was abused in a church confessional box, Ridsdale telling her she was wicked and needed to be punished.
She was forced to say “forgive me father for I have sinned” before he abused her.
Afterwards she was given a bag of lollies and told not to tell anyone.
Judge Rozenes said a major aggravating feature of this kind of offending is that we now know the effect on young victims is ongoing.
Victim impact statements shared common themes of a feeling of being exploited, feeling trapped, powerless, worthless and humiliated, Judge Rozenes said.
The fact Ridsdale is nearly 80, had been in custody for 20 years posed a difficult sentencing exercise.
Judge Rozenes took into account Ridsdale’s guilty plea as a sign of remorse, as well as the fact he will be 84 before the sentence he is currently serving is completed.
Pedophile priest's attrocities laid bare
To serial pedophile Gerald Francis Ridsdale, violating children was "the Lord's work".
That's what he told one of his 53 victims as he assaulted the nine-year-old altar boy.
Ridsdale began befriending, isolating and preying on vulnerable children almost as soon as he was ordained as a priest in 1961.
It was not until 1993 that his atrocities caught up with him, with his first jail stint.
He has remained in jail since 1994 and the 79-year-old is almost certain to die in prison after Victorian County Court Chief Judge Michael Rozenes sentences him on the latest charges on Tuesday.
But while Ridsdale spends his days as an inmate and prison gardener, his legacy of violated children growing into damaged adults continues to ripple through Victoria's community.
Their suffering was laid bare in Ridsdale's last court appearance in March, as the former priest sat in the dock with his head bowed.
"I trusted you, Gerald Ridsdale. You represented God and all that is good," one woman said.
"You exploited, manipulated and humiliated me while you hid behind the veil of the church.
"My only hope for you, Gerald Ridsdale, is that you do have some understanding of the misery and damage you have done to me and you're never released to hurt another child."
This woman's life was forever altered when Ridsdale pulled the then-10-year-old her close to him as they sat together in a parked car and said: "You'll have to kiss (me) better."
"It's our special secret," he told her afterwards.
A bag of boiled lollies or an ice-cream was her pay-off each time she was abused.
"As a child, how could I live in this world that didn't make sense," she asked.
Alcoholism, divorce and broken homes feature in the lives of many of the 14 most recent Ridsdale victims to detail their suffering in court.
Another woman forced to sleep a night in Ridsdale's room, where he kissed her, now struggles to kiss her husband.
"I'm not remembering it, I'm reliving it," she told the court.
An altar boy abused under the guise of "the Lord's work" said he became a fully blown alcoholic by age 17.
Another victim was groomed by Ridsdale at age four. He told her she was "God's little angel" on his regular visits to a relative.
He later raped her in a confessional box, telling her she needed to be punished for her sins.
"I have no recollection in my childhood of ever feeling safe," she said in her victim statement read to the court.
"I quickly learned the world could be an evil place."
That Ridsdale was allowed to continue this pattern of abuse for 26 years speaks in part to the fear and shame he instilled in his victims.
But it also points to the attitude of the Catholic Church, which repeatedly moved him to different parishes when confronted with claims of abuse.
The church now regards Ridsdale as one of the worst child sex offenders in Australia's history, and accepts 67 claims of abuse against him.
But when a parent approached the then-Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns about Ridsdale's conduct in 1975, the response was to shift him elsewhere.
Ridsdale was sent for counselling and moved from Inglewood to the Parish of Edenhope, in Victoria's west.
Further complaints were made against him while working at the Mortlake parish in 1981 and he moved to Sydney.
By 1986, he was back in Horsham, in western Victoria. When further issues were raised, his priestly duties were removed.
The church then sent Ridsdale to the US state of New Mexico for what it described as "rehabilitation".
But perhaps the act that most outraged victims was when Bishop George Pell, the man who would go on to become cardinal and Australia's most senior Catholic, accompanied Ridsdale to his first court appearance in 1993.
He later admitted it was a mistake to show "priestly solidarity", as he did not know the extent of Ridsdale's crimes.
In jailing Ridsdale for 18 years in 1994, Victorian County Court Judge John Dee attacked the church's role in enabling Ridsdale's depravity.
"The victims were not given, in my view, any priority by your superiors in the Catholic Church," Judge Dee told Ridsdale.
"The image and reputation of the church was given first priority over any past victim or potential victim.
"You were given some perfunctory in-house counselling before being shifted off to continue your criminal conduct in other areas."
Dr Pell has since told the royal commission into child sexual abuse that Australia's Catholic Church was in the 1990s far ahead of attitudes to abuse held in the Vatican, where complainants were regarded as enemies of the church.
While Dr Pell finds comfort in the historical attitude of the Australian arm of the church, it's not so for Ridsdale's victims.
Many of them told the March court hearing of their disenchantment at what they once considered a precious institution.
"He was protected, not us," one male victim told the court.
"I'm unable to have any faith in them as an organisation," another victim said.
Another judge, County Court Judge Bill White, also hit out at the Catholic Church for its inaction when sentencing Ridsdale in 2006.
The result was disastrous, catastrophic and tragic, he said.
"A number of suicide attempts and possible actual suicides," Justice White said.
"Loss of trust in the church and its clergy, loss of faith, mental breakdowns, a number of victims diagnosed with depression, alcoholism, post traumatic stress disorder and hospitalisation in mental institutions.
"Your victims, their families, your family, practising Catholics and the church have all suffered."
Joel Cresswell https://au.news.yahoo.com/vic/a/22441399/pedophile-priests-attrocities-laid-bare/
Calls for paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale to face child sex abuse royal commission
One of Australia's worst paedophiles - Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale - could be freed in months.
And he is being urged to reveal how the church helped cover up his illegal activities.
The child sex offender, who molested at least 40 children over three decades, is eligible for parole in June.
His victims say he should give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
"If he started to talk about what he knew, the Catholic Church house of cards would come tumbling down," victim Stephen Woods said.
Evidence of a church cover-up emerged at Ridsdale's 1994 plea hearing. Witnesses explained how he was moved from one parish to another when claims of abuse were raised.
Ridsdale was one of the priests who preyed on children at Ballarat's St Alipius school.
The Herald Sun can reveal another of those men, Brother Edward Dowlan, is the subject of a police investigation into up to 12 more abuse complaints.
He was jailed for 6 1/2 years in 1996 for abusing 11 children, and is believed to be living in suburban Melbourne.
Court documents suggest Ridsdale has good prospects for parole because he has demonstrated remorse.
A final assessment will be presented to the Adult Parole Board in May when it meets to decide on Ridsdale's fate.
The board can impose special parole conditions on serious offenders, such as ordering them to live in designated housing and denying them unsupervised contact with children.
New laws that would empower the board to force certain parolees to wear electronic monitoring devices have not yet begun.
But Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh expects they will be in force by June.
However, there are concerns a new GPS monitoring system -- promised by the Coalition before the 2010 election -- may not be in place in time.
"Corrections Victoria is currently undertaking a tender process for the procurement of electronic monitoring devices," a spokesman for the minister said.
Ridsdale received a maximum sentence of 25 years, meaning he could be kept behind bars until 2019.
The federal royal commission is expected to call for submissions soon.
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Ex-Priest Gets More Jail Time
A former Ballarat Catholic priest behind bars for indecently assaulting teenage boys more than 20 years ago has had four years added to his minimum jail term.
Gerald Francis Ridsdale, of Ararat Prison, stood silent with his head bowed and eyes closed as he was sentenced at the County Court in Ballarat over the indecent assault of 10 boys between 1970 and 1987.
The 72-year-old had pleaded guilty to 24 counts of indecent assault with a male aged under 16, four of buggery and seven of gross indecency.
Judge Bill White sentenced him to 13 years prison with a minimum of seven years, for crimes he described as disastrous, catastrophic, and tragic.
"There is no doubt your conduct plummets to the depths of evil hypocrisy," Judge White said.
Ridsdale already is serving an 18-year jail term for similar offences.
Under that jail term he is due for parole in 2009, but today's sentence means he will now not be eligible for release until August 2013, when he is aged 79.
Victims and their family members who attended court today erupted following the sentence.
One victim called out: "You could have said sorry you bastard, you can't even look at us now, can you."
Another person said: "I am one of the social workers that had to clean the mess you made, it was horrific."
The court heard Ridsdale preyed on boys as young as six years old, including alter boys and students, in Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh, Horsham, Edenhope, Mortlake and Warrnambool.
The court heard Ridsdale committed the offences following a wedding, a funeral, mass, during confession, on fishing trips and at his victims' homes.
Judge White also levelled criticism at the Catholic Church.
"The Catholic Church cannot escape criticism, in view of its lack of action on complaints being made as to your conduct, the constant moving of you from parish to parish, providing more opportunity for your predatory conduct, and its failure to show adequate compassion, for a number of your victims," he said.
Sex Case Reopened
Notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, who once worked in Inglewood, could face more charges after the case against him was recently reopened.
It is believed the Catholic church first became aware of Ridsdale's sexual abuse of children, mostly altar boys, while he was the parish priest at Inglewood in 1975.
However, he was not brought to justice until 1993.
The following year he was sentenced to 18 years in jail, with a 15-year non-parole period, after pleading guilty to 46 charges.
Described as Australia's most notorious paedophile, Ridsdale could be released in 2009.
However, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Paul Coghlan QC, has indicated more charges could be laid against the man.
It is believed at least a further nine victims have come forward since Ridsdale was imprisoned.
The DPP will make a decision following a meeting with them.
"The director has decided that, contrary to the earlier view he had expressed, the cases against Ridsdale should proceed," a statement from Mr Coghlan's office said.
"The police have been asked to complete the briefs in these matter. When that has been done, subject to the sufficiency of evidence, Ridsdale will be charged."
A police spokesman yesterday was unable to declare if any of the new claims against Ridsdale had arisen from the time he spent in Inglewood.
According to Broken Rites, a non-denominational support group for people abused in religious institutions, Ridsdale fled Inglewood months after his arrival in 1975 after complaints of sexual abuse arose against him.
Broken Rites spokeswoman Chris McIsaac yesterday welcomed the decision to reopen the case.
"We're happy with that, and would like to see it go ahead for the sake of the victims," Ms McIsaac said.
"Our group has been approached by hundreds of people affected by the Ridsdale offences over the years. It is important they get closure."
Priest May Be Charged
NEW child sex abuse charges may be laid against one of Victoria's most notorious pedophiles.
Victoria's Director of Public Prosecutions, Paul Coghlan QC, has said he is prepared to reconsider in earlier decision not to prosecute priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale on a series of new allegations.
Ridsdale, 70, was jailed in 1994 for 18 years with a minimum of 15 years, for a series of heinous crimes against children aged nine to 15.
The offences took place over 21 years.
Nine more complainants have come forward in recent years, but Mr Coghlan decided that prosecuting Ridsdale was not in the public interest.
Mr Coghlan has now changed his mind and has written to Attorney- General Rob Hulls saying he is prepared to meet victims and reconsider his decision.
In the letter, Mr Coghlan states: "All of the offences, had they been known about, could have been dealt with in 1994. The latest offending is alleged in 1980.
"Although the logic of that position is clear, it appears to have created disquiet in the community and public expressions of concern about my approach. It is important that the community have confidence in the criminal justice system."
Mr Coghlan told Mr Hulls his greatest concern was for the victims.
"It follows that such meetings only have a point if I am prepared to reconsider my decision. I am prepared, to do so," Mr Coghlan said.
Earlier this week in a radio interview Premier Steve Bracks said he believed this allegations should be tested in court.
The new batch or complainants includes a man who claims he was raped 12 times by Ridsdale.
The Catholic priest pleaded guilty in the County Court at Warrnambool to 46 charges, including five counts of buggery, one count of attempted buggery, 30 counts ot indecent assault on a male under 16, four counts of gross indecency, five counts of indecent assault, and one count of indecent assault on a girl under 16.
A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Rob Hulls said he welcomed Mr Coghlan's decision.
Call Police On Ridsdale, Says Bracks
Premier Steve Bracks yesterday encouraged victims of the notorious pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale to take their allegations to police, despite official reluctance to prosecute him further.
Mr Bracks said that if there was any further evidence against Ridsdale it should be brought forward. Ridsdale, 70, was jailed 10 years ago and has at least five years to serve.
Mr Bracks' comments follow the revelation that the Office of Public Prosecutions has refused to act on a police brief of evidence. The brief is based on allegations from nine complainants who have come forward since Ridsdale was sentenced to a maximum 18 years' jail.
Prosecutors have told police that Ridsdale's sentence was unusually long and because of his age it was "a virtual life sentence". They concluded that it was not in the public interest to launch a further series of charges.
Mr Bracks yesterday said decisions about prosecutions were a matter for the DPP but he would prefer to see new allegations examined in court.
Prosecutors Block Child Sex Charges
The Office of Public Prosecutions is refusing to press charges against one of Victoria's most notorious pedophiles, former priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale, despite nine more victims coming forward since his conviction on 46 charges.
The OPP told a police investigator that although it sympathised with the nine complainants, prosecuting Ridsdale further was "not in the public interest".
A four-year investigation by Detective Sergeant Kevin Carson of Ballarat CIU uncovered the allegations against Ridsdale, 70, who was sentenced in 1994 to a minimum of 15 years' jail.
Among the latest complainants is a western Victorian man, 35, whose account of abuse includes 12 instances of rape. He claims he was subjected to oral sex several times a week when he was a child in Edenhope.
A psychiatrist's report on the man, seen by The Age, notes there were few situations "which would exceed this in terms of the level of cruelty and degradation suffered by the victim".
Dr William Glaser said it was a tribute to the man that he had been able to achieve even a semblance of a normal life, but he would still be left with chronic, serious psychiatric problems.
In a letter to victims telling them of the decision not to prosecute, Sergeant Carson said: "While you may well believe that current community standards differ markedly from the view expressed by the OPP, I point out that I cannot take this matter any further for you."
The man's family, who cannot be identified, released a copy of the letter.
His mother said Ridsdale's jail sentence was unrelated to the offences against her son. "My son doesn't ever want to see Ridsdale out of jail because he will offend again," she said.
"I know from a mother's point of view it will help them get peace of mind when they know he will not get out of jail."
Sergeant Carson would not comment on the OPP's refusal to pursue charges.
A spokesman for the OPP said that even if Ridsdale was found guilty of the new allegations, he would be unlikely to receive an increased sentence.
The Court of Appeal in 1995 "described Ridsdale's sentence as a "virtual life sentence . . unusually long". At such a late stage of his life it was "harsh punishment and a severe burden". The court said he would not be eligible for parole until he was 75.
The OPP spokesman said: "Out view is he would not get a substantial increase in his sentence, if any. We are prosecuting all of these cases in the context of limited resources in the criminal justice system. The question becomes 'what's to be gained for the public?'
"While we understand the concern of the individual victims, and we are concerned for the victims, it's a question of balancing all of the considerations."
However, the western Victorian man's mother said that while the courts might view Ridsdale's sentence as severe, her son would always carry a burden. "This follows every one of the children (Ridsdale abused) into teenage and into adulthood. They still carry their scars."
It is also believed that further allegations not to be acted on have been levelled against two of Ridsdale's co-offenders, former Christian Brothers Robert Best and Edward Dowlan, both of whom taught primary classes at St Alipius school. Ballarat.
At Dowlan's County Court trial in 1996, the prosecution alleged that three St Alipius boys were each sexually abused by Dowlan, Best and Ridsdale.
Ten complainants are believed to have made further allegations against Dowlan and Best.
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Schools and Sex Offenders
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