Australia’s Catholic Cardinal, George Pell (pictured above, entering court with former housemate Fr. Gerald Ridsdale) has been spared a problem.
Ridsdale, Australia’s worst paedophile priest, was eligible for parole this month. However, his application for parole was rejected by the Victorian Adult Parole Board after more people spoke out on allegations of abuse, causing a new investigation. Despite considering Ridsdale’s bid for freedom, the Adult Parole Board ruled to defer any decision until receiving the outcome of Victoria Police’s probe.
The Victorian Adult Parole Board, newly headed by Elizabeth Curtain, has been under fire over recent parole decisions, notably a case where a serial, violent sex offender was released, then assaulted and murdered ABC radio staffer, Jill Meagher, from Ireland.
Ridsdale was being urged to reveal how the church helped cover up his illegal activities. His victims say he should give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. “If he started to talk about what he knew, the Catholic Church house of cards would come tumbling down,” one of Ridsdale’s victims said.
Allegedly, in an admission to family members, Ridsdale said he had abused “hundreds” of children before he was caught, and appeared in court, supported by Cardinal Pell.
Evidence of a church cover-up emerged at Ridsdale’s 1994 plea hearing. Witnesses explained how he was moved from one parish to another when claims of abuse were raised. Ridsdale was one of the priests who preyed on children at Ballarat’s St. Alipius school. Court documents had suggested Ridsdale had good prospects for parole because he has demonstrated remorse (see previous posting).
Ridsdale has now been charged with 72 new child sex offences which allegedly occurred in regional Victoria between 1961 and 1980. He appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, where the case was adjourned for a committal mention on September 20. He did not apply for bail and was remanded in custody.
Ridsdale is expected, at least, to serve the remaining six years of his current term, with a possible addition to his prison term if the new charges are upheld, so Cardinal Pell’s problem fades and he can continue with his three-month holiday in Rome, untroubled.
That is, unless Ridsdale decides to talk to the Royal Commission in a plea bargain, about who helped him get away with his offences for so very long.
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That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)