Ballarat Sexual Abuse Victims Speak At Royal Commission

Ballarat sexual abuse victims to speak at royal commission

Father Gerald Ridsdale

One of Australia’s worst paedophiles, Father Gerald Ridsdale, will be called to give evidence when the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse opens in Ballarat. Source: News Corp Australia

HE is one of Australia’s most vile and notorious paedophiles, responsible for the rape and abuse of children as young as four.

Convicted priest Father Gerald Ridsdale will give evidence via video link from prison, where he has been held since 1994. He be questioned about the crimes committed at the Catholic school he worked at when he is called to give evidence at the The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat.

The Victorian city was considered one of the most horrific sites of abuse after it was revealed in the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Sexual Abuse that at one time all the male teachers and the chaplain at the St Alipius primary school were molesting children.

Ridsdale’s appearance will be just the third time since the Royal Commission began that a convicted sex offender has been called to give evidence.

The Christian Brothers say they are committed to addressing the failures of the past as the child abuse royal commission focuses on the Catholic Church’s dealings with paedophiles in Ballarat.

Speaking ahead of today’s hearing, Christian Brothers Oceania province leader Brother Peter Clinch repeated the Catholic order’s apology to those abused while in their care.

“The Christian Brothers are steadfast in our commitment to address the failures of the past and to help bring some measure of healing to lives damaged by abuse,” Brother Clinch said in a statement.

“As we have done in the past and reiterate today, we acknowledge the great suffering inflicted as the result of actions of some of our own.” Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird said the hearing will be very stressful for survivors, their families and people across the region.

“People will be deeply upset by the accounts of crimes against children and by the failings of church leaders in responding to these crimes,” he said.

Bishop Bird said victims had a right to know the church recognised their suffering and apologised for their pain.

A Victorian parliamentary inquiry heard former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns destroyed documents and made a “tragic mistake” by not removing Australia’s worst paedophile priest Father Gerald Francis Ridsdale when he became aware of abuse allegations.

Bishop Mulkearns knew of complaints against Ridsdale as early as 1975 — but let him remain a priest and moved him to other parishes, the inquiry heard in 2013.

The Christian Brothers told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry it was an “accident of history” that at one time the entire male teaching staff of Ballarat’s St Alipius Primary School were sex offenders.

Former Christian Brother Stephen Farrell is led away from Ballarat Court after receiving

Former Christian Brother Stephen Farrell is led away from Ballarat Court after receiving a suspended sentence for sex crimes against children. Source: News Corp Australia

Ridsdale, one of those moved between parishes, is one of Australia’s worst paedophiles.

Police investigating complaints against him believe there are many more victims than those who have come forward, Dr Chamley said.

“They estimated that Ridsdale had probably sexually abused at least 1000 children,” he said.

“In a town like Mortlake it’s thought that he sexually abused every child in the primary school.”

Ridsdale will not be eligible for parole until April 2019.