Silent witness: Judge criticises Church in abuse finding

Sentence increased

A Melbourne judge has criticised a priest who allegedly was aware that convicted pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale was sexually assaulting a young girl 40 years ago, reports The Herald Sun.

In Victoria, the Chief Judge of the County Court criticised the alleged witness priest — whose identity is known by the victim, court, Office of Police Prosecutions and Ridsdale’s lawyers, but has been withheld from the public.

But the judge refused a Herald Sun application for access to documents in which he is believed to be named.

In sentencing Ridsdale to a further eight years jail yesterday, Judge Michael Rozenes said: 'Although it does not directly involve you, Mr Ridsdale, there is a further disturbing aspect to this incident, namely that this complainant believes another priest was present for a short time while you were sexually assaulting her and must have been aware of the assault but did not intervene.

'I raise this merely to make an observation: namely that this behaviour appears to be demonstrative of the Church’s approach to sexual abuse at the time which ultimately — and unfortunately, for your victims — allowed your criminal behaviour to go unchecked for so long.'

The victim declined to name the priest, saying: 'I’ve done everything I possibly can, I have to live with this, I’ve got a family to look after.'

The alleged priest told The Herald Sun that it was 'a completely mistaken suggestion' that he witnessed the crime, 'in the presbytery or anywhere else.'

'It is certainly mistaken to assert' that he 'witnessed any such crime and failed to act.'

Ridsdale had eight years added to his prison term, after pleading guilty to 30 new charges between 1961 and 1980.

FULL COVERAGE

Judge slams church over paedophile priest secrets (The Herald Sun)

More jail for pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale (news.com.au)

Paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced to 8 years in jail for child abuse (ABC)

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