At least 20 victims of former priest Gerald Ridsdale have instructed a lawyer to prepare a class action against the Diocese of Ballarat, reports The Courier.
The landmark class action against the Church will be the first test of Cardinal George Pell's recent commitment to make the Church less hostile to litigation from sex abuse victims.
Lawyer Vivian Waller said the victims had instructed her to launch claims against the Diocese of Ballarat and argue that the Church's negligence or cover-ups allowed Ridsdale to remain as a priest after it was known he was a sexual predator.
It is understood the Church could be forced to pay out millions in compensation if the cases succeed.
On Tuesday, Ridsdale, who admitted to abusing at least 53 children between 1961 and 1982, was sentenced to eight more years' jail, after he pleaded guilty to 39 new charges involving sex offences against 11 boys and three girls, he having already been jailed in previous court cases.
County Court Chief Judge Michael Rozenes said Ridsdale's 'unfettered sexual deviance' had been a blatant breach of trust. He abused one young girl in the confessional box after ordering her to say the prayer 'Forgive me Father for I have sinned' and told a nine-year-old boy the abuse was 'the Lord's work.'
Ms Waller said Cardinal Pell's recent appearance before the Royal Commission into sexual abuse suggested the Church would no longer rely on legal technicalities to avoid proper compensation.
Former bishop faces possible abuse class action (The Warrnambool Standard)