Church 'Failed to Act on Abuse'

The Border Mail [Australia]
August 12, 2006

The Catholic Church has come under attack by a judge and the victims of a pedophile priest who had indecently assaulted young boys at a wedding, a funeral and even during confessions.

Gerald Francis Ridsdale, already in Ararat Prison for similar offences, stood silent as he was sentenced by the Ballarat Court over sexual abuse of boys aged as young as six between 1970 and 1987 in Victoria's western district.

The court heard the 72-year-old had committed the offences following a wedding, a funeral mass, during confessions, holidays, on a fishing trip and at his victims' homes.

His victims included altar boys and students in Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh and Warrnambool.

Some victims and their families attended court yesterday and one yelled out to Ridsdale at the end of the hearing: "Don't worry about this judge .... worry about the next one ... you will burn in hell."

Ridsdale said to one victim if he told, he would not become an altar boy.

Judge White also criticised the Catholic Church for its lack of action on complaints against Ridsdale and moving him from parish to parish.

Outside the court, one of Ridsdale's victims said:

"The judge failed today to send a message to them (the church) that they harbour these people, ... they have not been told what you did is wrong."


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