“Child sexual abuse inquiry: Notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale raped girl at home he shared with George Pell, ‘and another priest heard'” & related articles

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Photo: Gerald Ridsdale has given evidence to the royal commission via video link from prison. (Supplied)

Notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale molested an 11-year-old girl in the home he once shared with other priests, including now Cardinal George Pell, an inquiry into child sexual abuse has been told.

Ridsdale, an 81-year-old former priest, was back in the witness box for a second day at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat.

The inquiry heard the defrocked priest abused the girl at the Ballarat East presbytery in the 1970s, where he was living with a number of other priests, including Australia’s now most senior Catholic leader.

The inquiry heard the girl went to look at the rock collection in Ridsdale’s bedroom, but saw a pornographic magazine and ran away.

When Ridsdale caught up to her, he raped her.

Court documents read out at the inquiry revealed the girl believed another priest was there and heard her being assaulted, but did not intervene.

Ridsdale told the hearing that was probably true, but could not remember who it was.

“I have no idea about the priests who were with me in Ballarat East,” he said.

Ridsdale did say he could recall Cardinal Pell was living at the parish at the time.

“I have to accept that fact that George Pell was there but I don’t remember any of the others,” he said.

Cardinal Pell has told the royal commission he is willing to appear in person and give evidence.

Ridsdale’s lack of memory about events slammed as ‘incredible’

Ridsdale had earlier told the commission he could not remember many details about his past, including the Catholic Church’s knowledge of his offending against numerous children in regional Victoria.

It led the judge presiding over the inquiry to say that it was “incredible” he could not recall those details.

At one stage, Justice Peter McClellan expressed incredulity Ridsdale could not remember details of his offending, or which members of the Catholic clergy may have known about his abusive nature.

“Isn’t it incredible?” Justice McClellan put to Ridsdale, after Ridsdale said he couldn’t “remember anything about Mortlake” in western Victoria, where he abused many children.

Justice McClellan also expressed frustration about Ridsdale’s inability to recall discussions with Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who moved Ridsdale around western Victoria.

At one point, Ridsdale also appeared to backtrack on whether he was in fear of losing his priesthood.

“It’s not a case of thinking you could’ve been,” Justice McClellan told Ridsdale.

“You would’ve been absolutely terrified the Bishop was going to throw you out of the church.”

Ridsdale replied: “I can only tell you what I remember.”

At least three clergy members knew of Ridsdale’s offending

Earlier, Ridsdale responded with, “I don’t know … I can’t recall”, when asked by counsel assisting, Gail Furncess SC, if Cardinal Pell ever spoke to Ridsdale about his offending, or whether Ridsdale ever told him about his problems with children.

Photo: Gerald Ridsdale (left) says he raped an 11yo girl at a home he shared with other priests, including George Pell (right). (ABC News)

He also acknowledged at least three members of the clergy, including Bishop Mulkearns, knew of his prolific offending at Mortlake.

Ridsdale was also asked about his offending in New South Wales, after he was moved there from Victoria because he had “certain sexual problems”.

He told the commission he abused children at several locations, including in his “underground house” at White Cliffs.

The inquiry heard one family who had been visiting Ridsdale for decades in prison did not know he had abused their own son.

Judge questions whether Ridsdale was ‘coached’

Justice McClellan also raised the possibility Ridsdale may have been coached in what to say in evidence, asking him repeatedly who had visited him in prison in recent months, including on the March 17.

“You appreciate there’ll be a record of people who’ve been to see you in jail, don’t you?” Justice McClellan put to Ridsdale.

Ridsdale said he made regular phone calls to his sisters and had been visited by Father John McKinnon, of a western Victorian parish.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

He also backtracked on evidence that it was his barrister who approached Cardinal Pell to support him in court during the 1990s.

On Wednesday, Ridsdale said Cardinal Pell may not have known the nature of the child abuse charges against him, he did not know exactly what Cardinal Pell was going to say in his support, and that it was insignificant anyway.

He told the royal commission he barely knew Cardinal Pell.

But on Thursday he acknowledged, on the face of evidence put to him by Ms Furness, that he had approached Pell himself.

“It looks like I must’ve done that, yes,” Ridsdale said.

Ridsdale has finished giving evidence to the inquiry but has not been formally excused as he could be recalled later for Church cross-examination.

The hearing continues.

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Law & Order
Paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale says another priest could have seen him abusing, but can’t name him

The Herald Sun  (Australia)

May 28, 2015 9:18PM

Shannon Deery, Padraic Murphy, Lucie Morris Marr

[Click here to view video ]

PAEDOPHILE Gerald Ridsdale has conceded another priest may have seen him raping a schoolgirl — but has said he couldn’t name the man.

Giving evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Thursday, Ridsdale was asked if another priest could have been present in the Ballarat presbytery when he assaulted a girl in his bedroom there in the early 1970s.

He replied: “There could have been, yes. There probably would have been.”

MORE: PELL SAYS ‘I’LL GIVE EVIDENCE IN PERSON’

He accepted that the victim believed that priest was briefly present during the attack.

Asked who that priest was, Ridsdale, 81, replied: “I don’t know, because I have said I don’t know who the other priests were there at the same time, except George Pell.”

Protesters watch Ridsdale give evidence. Picture: Norm Oorloff

Protesters watch Ridsdale give evidence. Picture: Norm Oorloff

The Herald Sun can reveal that police investigated whether the priest was Cardinal George Pell or another priest.

Ridsdale shared a home with the then Father Pell and another priest. The commission heard Fr Pell, then in his early 30s, shared the St Alipius Presbytery in Ballarat with Ridsdale in 1973.

When the Herald Sun put the allegations to Cardinal Pell last year, and again last week, he vehemently denied any knowledge of the incident.

Dr Pell said he “never saw any such thing at any time, and no such crime was ever reported” to him.

Ridsdale pleaded guilty in the County Court to raping the girl between 1972 and 1973, when she was aged 10 or 11.

The County Court heard she had been cutting up vegetables in the presbytery before Ridsdale chased her and brutally raped her.

The court heard a priest witnessed the attack.

“(The victim) believes that another priest living at the house at the time walked through the door to the hallway and exited out the back door as this occurred. She knows that this priest saw what was happening,” it said.

Cardinal Pell says he’ll give evidence in person. Picture: AFP

Cardinal Pell says he’ll give evidence in person. Picture: AFP

The cardinal has denied any suggestion he was present at the time of the attack, or that he had any knowledge that Ridsdale was a paedophile before 1993.

Ridsdale said other priests often visited the home, but agreed that it would have been unlikely for them to be in or near his bedroom when he molested children.

Legal experts warned the allegations would be difficult to substantiate, given they were made by a highly traumatised child victim in relation to conduct more than 40 years ago.

In other evidence on Thursday Ridsdale admitted:

HE asked Bishop Pell to support him in court and told him of his offending in 1993.

HE should never have been allowed to become a priest.

CHURCH officials should have reported him to police as early as the 1960s.

DOZENS of victims suffered because the church did not act.

Ridsdale also revealed his abuse was more widely known among priests than he had earlier admitted.

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns. Picture:Ian Currie

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns. Picture:Ian Currie

He said Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns, Monsignor Leo Fiscalini and Fr Henry Nolan were all made aware of his offending at a Mortlake parish in 1982.

It has emerged that problems managing Ridsdale were raised by Mulkearns at a top-level meeting of seven priests, including Fr Pell, in that year.

Both Mons Fiscalini and Fr Nolan, Cardinal Pell’s cousin, were also at the meeting.

Ridsdale said he finally stopped offending after attending a clinic in New Mexico between 1989 and 1990. He has admitted abusing hundreds of kids and has been convicted of more than 140 offences concerning 54 victims.

Church lawyer Peter Gray said he wasn’t yet ready to cross-examine Ridsdale, who may be recalled to resume his evidence later this year.

“There are many things which we will need to investigate and check, people we will need to speak to, and that will take some time,” Mr Gray said.

Cardinal Pell is facing mounting pressure to reappear at the commission, and has offered to do so if requested.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he wanted to see Dr Pell voluntarily appear to show he took child sex abuse seriously.

The Catholic Church had no further response on Thursday.

_________________________________

Child abuse inquiry: Church sent Gerald Ridsdale to Sydney where he abused more children

ABC  The World Today  (Australia)

Samantha Donovan reported this story on Thursday, May 28, 2015 12:20:00

[Click below to hear report]

ELEANOR HALL: In Ballarat, the royal commission into child sexual abuse has heard more disturbing detail about the management of the paedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, by the Catholic Church hierarchy.

Ridsdale has told the commission that a Victorian bishop arranged his transfer to Sydney in the 1980s because of his offending in Victoria.

But a condition that he was not to have contact with children was ignored by both Ridsdale and others in the church.

Samantha Donovan is following the hearings and joins us now.

Sam, what evidence was there today about how Ridsdale’s transfer to Sydney was arranged?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Well, by the early 1980s, Eleanor, the commission has heard the Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns was very well aware that Ridsdale was a paedophile.

He’d moved him from parish to parish in Victoria after complaints were made and had sent him to counselling with a psychologist who was also a priest but Ridsdale’s acknowledged this morning that counselling certainly wasn’t working.

So Bishop Mulkearns arranged with Sydney’s Cardinal Freeman to have him transferred to Sydney’s Catholic Inquiry Centre to what should have just been a desk job.

The conditions of the transfer were that he just work at the centre and not have contact with children but the commission has heard this morning that those conditions were soon forgotten and Ridsdale ended up working in parishes like Maroubra and Bulli and abusing children there.

On Bishop Mulkearns’ role in all this, the royal commission chairman, Peter McClellan put this question to Ridsdale.

PETER MCCLELLAN: Mr Ridsdale, you spoke with Bishop Mulkearns about your sexual offending.

Do I assume that you understood and he understood that you were both talking about you having committed criminal offences?

GERALD RIDSDALE: Yes, Your Honour.

PETER MCCLELLAN: There can be no doubt about that? You both knew you were talking about you engaging in criminal activity?

GERALD RIDSDALE: Yes, Your Honour, yes.

PETER MCCLELLAN: And did anyone, either Bishop Mulkearns or anyone else in the church ever indicate to you that they were going to go and tell the police about what you’d been doing?

GERALD RIDSDALE: No, I don’t think so.

PETER MCCLELLAN: What about when you were in Sydney?

Did anyone talk to you about your criminal activity in Sydney?

GERALD RIDSDALE: No, I can’t remember Your Honour anyone ever doing that.

PETER MCCLELLAN: You can’t remember anyone ever talking to you about it?

GERALD RIDSDALE: No.

GAIL FURNESS: Did anyone tell you that [inaudible] to the police or wouldn’t report you to the police?

GERALD RIDSDALE: No, I don’t think so.

ELEANOR HALL: That’s the convicted paedophile and former priest, Gerald Ridsdale, giving evidence from prison.

So Sam, how many children did he go on to abuse while he was in Sydney?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Well, I think we’ll probably never know exactly how many children were abused by Ridsdale in New South Wales, Eleanor, or Victoria for that matter.

We’ve heard mention of about six victims in New South Wales this morning but there hasn’t been a lot of detail and it’s very clear that the 81-year-old Ridsdale certainly doesn’t remember all of his victims, which are thought to number in their hundreds.

Both counsel-assisting and the commission chairman, Peter McClellan, seemed a little impatient with Ridsdale’s inability to remember things today and Peter McClellan’s just been quizzing him on who Ridsdale speaks to on the phone from jail and who visits him.

It seems Justice McClellan’s a little concerned about discrepancies in Ridsdale’s evidence here and what he’s told Justic McClellan in a private meeting a few weeks ago.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, what about Bishop Mulkearns? Has the commissioner indicated whether he will call him to give evidence?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: No indication has been given but I’d imagine the commission would be keen to hear his evidence.

Bishop Mulkearns, who’s retired now and in his 80s, declined to give evidence to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry in 2012 but he could be subpoenaed by the royal commission.

The commission will be going back to Ballarat later in the year so we’ll have to wait and see if he’s called then.

ELEANOR HALL: And Sam, we heard yesterday from Cardinal George Pell that he will cooperate with the commission.

Was there any more evidence today about his relationship with Ridsdale?

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Yes there was.

Counsel-assisting the commission Gail Furness asked Ridsdale more about his relationship in the 1970s with Father Pell.

GAIL FURNESS: You had lived with him earlier in the presbytery at Ballarat East, hadn’t you?

GERALD RIDSDALE: Well, yes. I had forgotten that but documents show that he was there at the same time, so I accept that.

GAIL FURNESS: And at the same time means that you each had bedrooms in the presbytery at St Alipius?

GERALD RIDSDALE: Yeah, we lived there at St Alipius Presbytery.

GAIL FURNESS: And that was for about 12 months or so?

GERALD RIDSDALE: I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you that.

GAIL FURNESS: The time that you were living together at the presbytery, you had meals together?

GERALD RIDSDALE: Yes, we would have had meals together.

GAIL FURNESS: And you would have generally chatted with each other as you saw each other around the presbytery?

GERALD RIDSDALE: Yeah, that would be normal.

GAIL FURNESS: Was he, at any stage, your confessor?

GERALD RIDSDALE: Not that I know of. I don’t think so.

GAIL FURNESS: Did you tell George Pell while you were in the presbytery of the difficulties you had with adult relationships?

GERALD RIDSDALE: No, I don’t think so.

GAIL FURNESS: Did you tell him of the difficulties you’d had since the seminary with children?

GERALD RIDSDALE: No, I don’t think so.

ELEANOR HALL: And that’s Gerald Ridsdale, the paedophile former priest, giving evidence at the royal commission into child sexual abuse.

Samantha Donovan, our reporter covering that inquiry.

_____________________________

Paedophile Gerald Ridsdale admits another priest ‘may have seen abuse’

Disgraced priest also accepts that he shared a house with George Pell in the 1970s and reveals details of the treatment arranged for him by the church

The Guardian (Australia)

Thursday 28 May 2015 06.42 BST
Last modified on Thursday 28 May 2015 07.47 BST

Oliver Milman
@olliemilman

Convicted paedophile Gerald Ridsdale has been questioned over the sexual abuse of a young girl in a house he shared with George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric.

At a royal commission hearing in the Victorian city of Ballarat on Thursday, Ridsdale, who has been in jail for child sex offences since 1994, was asked about a further conviction last year for an assault on a 10 or 11-year-old girl in 1972 or 1973.

The judge in the case remarked in sentencing 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”.

Under questioning from Gail Furness, counsel assisting the royal commission, Ridsdale said he did not remember the incident but accepted he committed the offence and that another priest may have been present.

Asked with whom he was living at the time, Ridsdale said: “Well, I said I didn’t remember any of the priests who were there with me but you tell me that George Pell was there at the same time so I have to accept that, that George Pell was there, but I don’t remember any of the others.”

Pressed further by Furness over which priest was present during the assault, Ridsdale said: “I don’t know because I have said I don’t know who the other priests were there at the same time, except George Pell.”

Ridsdale was a Catholic priest who lived in the St Alipius presbytery in Ballarat, a building that had two bedrooms on the top floor. Ridsdale was convicted of committing more than 140 sexual assaults against children as young as four over three decades until the 1980s.
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The extent of the Catholic church’s desire to move Ridsdale to other parishes rather than report him to the police was further detailed in the Thursday hearing.

Despite three senior clerics being made aware of Ridsdale’s offending in Mortlake in the 1970s, he was moved to an administrative position in Sydney. Ridsdale told the hearing over a video link from prison that a boy from a prayer group stayed with him during this time.

Ridsdale was then moved to Horsham in Victoria, where he was an assistant priest from 1986 to 1988 and where he committed further offences.

A parent of one of his abuse victims wrote to the local bishop, Ronald Mulkearns, to ask him to ensure Ridsdale would not work with young boys again, the hearing heard.

The parent said she was glad that Ridsdale had been “spoken to” by Mulkearns but added she was not satisfied and that there should be an assurance that Ridsdale be “removed from all contact with young boys.”

Ridsdale, who had been undergoing treatment from the Catholic church, including “relaxation exercises” throughout the 1980s, was then stood down from parish work but then sent for further treatment in New Mexico.

Letters between Mulkearns and the treatment facility raised the possibility of Ridsdale returning to work in some capacity.

During occasionally testy exchanges, justice Peter McClellan, chairman of the royal commission, also questioned Ridsdale over who had visited him in prison or called him around the time that he gave evidence to the royal commission in private in March.

Ridsdale, under questioning from McClellan, accepted that he should never have been made a priest.

“There should’ve been a better screening process that was much more thorough, psychological process that was much more thorough than what was conducted then,” he said.

“I’m sorry that didn’t happen, it would’ve saved so many others.”

After completing his treatment in New Mexico in 1990, Ridsdale was finally arrested in 1993. He told the hearing that he didn’t commit any offences after returned from the US, leading him to think the treatment had worked.

“I wasn’t locked up, I had opportunities to go to shopping malls or beaches or anywhere and I’m happy to say I didn’t offend in that period,” he said.

The royal commission hearings in Ballarat will conclude on 5 June.

_____________________________________________

If there is a hell, let abusers burn for all eternity

Political Columnist
Sydney
Illustration: Eric Lobbecke

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke Source: Supplied

Yesterday I saw the face of evil. For an hour or more I watched the testimony of former priest Gerald Ridsdale, who gave evidence to the royal commission into child sexual abuse. Trying to comprehend the length, breadth and depth of this evil proved a task beyond my capacities. Eventually I had to turn it off.

I felt like taking a shower because the need to be cleansed after my exposure to this piece of excrement was akin to a drug addict searching for another fix. It wasn’t simply listening to his accounts of various incidents of child abuse that made me nauseous. The tales of complicity by various figures in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Victoria at the time had a familiar ring to them.

This mongrel was shifted from parish to parish with the full knowledge of what he was up to in the hands of the very church super­iors who made that decision.

He was apparently offered little or nothing in the way of counselling. No punishment was meted out to him for ruining the lives of the young boys he assaulted. Not even a formal reprimand was recorded against him, let alone a suspension from his priestly duties­. Ridsdale had been at his first posting as an assistant to a parish priest for barely five months when the first parents came to his bishop to complain.

His then diocesan boss, Bishop James Patrick O’Collins, threatened to remove him from any parish work where he might have come into contact with children. Not only was this despicable offence not reported to the police by the bishop, there is no evidence it was reported to anyone at all.

In the classic move which seemed to be the policy of the church for decade after decade, he was shunted to another siding from Ballarat North, where that first offence occurred. He served in at least four other parishes in the next few years. We will never know how many boys he abused but it would appear to be anything from hundreds to 1000.

The most prolific child-abuser to have ever come to light in Australia was eventually sent for some counselling. After a couple of sessions, Ridsdale was informed his counsellor had left the job. So interested were his superiors in the results of these crucial sessions that no replacement counsellor appears to have been organised and the abuser kept on abusing.

A Bishop Ronald Mulkearns appears to be in imminent danger of being charged with complicity in the commission of a serious crime as he kept moving this truly sick individual around rural Victoria after quite a few incidents of abuse had been brought to his atten­tion. This may bring some consolation to his victims but let us hope it doesn’t end there.

Ridsdale’s abuse occurred close to home as well. Not contented with the smorgasbord of boys available to him in the parish schools, he even chose to abuse his own nephew. That this man would come forward and so publicly pursue his uncle in the face of the overwhelming disinterest of the church hierarchy speaks volumes for his persistence and courage. That he needed to take part in this pursuit at all speaks volume for the attitude adopted by the church. Were it not for the extraordinary courage of the victims who refused to be silenced, we might not be on this journey now.

The truly scary thing for me was hearing the voice of evil. This man recounted stories of terrible abuse as if he were reading off a supermarket shopping list. There was no emotion whatsoever in his delivery. No passion or compassion were on display. If Ridsdale feels any remorse or sorrow for the lives he ruined, he managed to hide it brilliantly.

It is a feature of pedophile evidence at this commission that arro­gance and self justification seem able to outweigh contrition. I can recall his version of his abuse of a boy of just 10 years of age who had trouble with bed-wetting. Ridsdale could recall in detail how he inveigled this poor boy into his bed. It was about this point that I had to turn him off.

At the age of 81, Ridsdale could be forgiven a few lapses of memory, although some of those appeared­ rather convenient. He could not remember at all living in the same house as George Pell for a couple of years. Some serious alleg­ations have been levelled at Pell in the commission in recent days and he has indicated he is willing to return to Australia to refute these claims if required. The “he said, she said” nature of the alleg­ations makes it difficult to believe anything much will ever come of them.

The last time he gave evidence at this commission, Pell came out of it at best complicit in, at worst the architect of, a scheme to run ragged victims seeking compensation in the courts through extensive and expensive legal manoeuvres. To save the church a quid or two, he was happy to pile even more misery onto those whose lives his church’s representatives had damaged so cruelly. He accompanied Ridsdale to a court appearance to offer him support. I offer no comment on that. You readers be the judge. If he knew Ridsdale he must have known what he was and what he was up to. I, for one, await Pell’s return to the witness box with great interest.

Having praised those who have gone public with their tales of abuse, it is worth noting those who have not. There are two categories of victims here. Many have given private evidence to the commission and for them this has been a liberating experience and I congratulate them. The majority of victims, however, will not come forward. They are so scarred by their childhood memories they can speak to no one. I have spoken to many of them and I am still receiving letters from people with tales far too graphic to recount. To them we should send our love, our best wishes and our congratulations for being able to bat on as best as they could after those who were supposed to guide them betrayed their trust so viciously.

I hope what my Catholic education taught me about religion is true. I want there to be a hell and I want Gerald Ridsdale and his ilk and all those who covered up for them to burn in that dreadful place for all eternity. Amen!

3 Responses to “Child sexual abuse inquiry: Notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale raped girl at home he shared with George Pell, ‘and another priest heard'” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    The above information give a good idea of what happened at the hearings. Read and weep!

    • BC says:

      Hundreds to a thousand victims. One clerical pervert. And of course, none of these great humanitarian imitators of Christ saw anything; heard anything. Not one clerical witness. Not even one. Hundreds of victims. Not one clerical witness who had the balls to testify. To say:- I heard this. To allocute on the record:-I saw the terror in this young person’s eyes. No. Nada. Nothing. Cardinal Pell is a coward. He’s a wuss. He’s got nothing. No balls. No guts. And the Patron Saint of selfies who appointed him to the the Vatican Bank is obviously in it all for the royalties on the overpriced memorabilia that’s being peddled about him. The Pope has been working on his exist strategy since he figured out that Pell had screwed him too. Expect the Chief Foot Washer to announce that he’s stepping down for health reasons. After Ireland, they’ve now lost Australia. Pell’s real agenda is to disinvest the Church from the industrialized world and move it’s assets into dictatorial regimes that suit it better. And I say that that is a good thing, because these silly little men and their precious little books won’t survive what the real priesthood of depravation have in store for them. Once the Church’s off-the-books cash is all gone they’ll be using the clergy for target practice.

      It is, after all, what they claim to be have been called for: the imitation of Christ all the way to the Cross. And they’re gonna get what they bargained for. Praise the Lord. Thank God. And Amen. Indeed.

  2. Ding dong says:

    The movie Wizard of Oz is famous for the lines Ding Dong the Witch is Dead. With Pell in charge of finances it will soon be Ding Dong the Church is Dead. Some one has to wake up the Pope as to the monster he has created. After all wine at less than $300 per bottle is undrinkable, isn’t it George?

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