Paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale, convicted of more than 100 charges of child sexual abuse during 30 years, began offending before he was ordained and says he worked with no restrictions at any of the parishes he was moved to, reports The Age.
Ridsdale, 81, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse yesterday that he had spent his life feeling "uncomfortable" around adults, keeping secrets and in fear of being discovered as a paedophile. He also said he had been sexually abused as a child himself, and had had a three-year relationship while in prison.
The first time he abused a child was at a camp for disadvantaged children while he was still in training to become a priest at a seminary in Werribee.
Within a year of his ordination in 1961, the Church received its first complaint about Ridsdale abusing children. Then-Bishop James O'Collins threatened to send Ridsdale "off the mission" if he offended again, which meant he would no longer work as a priest.
Ms Furness asked if this threat played on his mind as he moved to different parishes and abused children. Ridsdale, who was also abused by a cousin and an uncle when he was younger than 12, said: "It could have."
He repeatedly denied having to comply with certain conditions when he was moved to different parishes, despite parishioners' complaints of his abusive behaviour.
"I've never had any restrictions or conditions put on me," he said.
Church authorities' knowledge and response to Ridsdale and others' sexual offending are being examined at the hearings in Ballarat.
Ridsdale repeatedly told counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, SC, that he could not remember why he had left various parishes, and whether he had told Ballarat's then- Bishop Ronald Mulkearns that he had abused children.
Ms Furness prompted Ridsdale with evidence from witnesses who reported abuse allegations against him to Bishop Mulkearns, including the Bishop himself.
Ridsdale accepted that a number of parishioners, Bishop Mulkearns, and two of his former vicar generals, Monsignor Leo Fiscalini and Monsignor Henry Nolan, knew he had sexual difficulties.
TJH Council update here.
Priest knew he sinned when abusing kids (AAP/Yahoo7)
Priest knew he sinned when abusing kids (News.com.au)
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