GERALD Ridsdale, one of Australia’s most notorious paedophile priests who admitted abusing at least 53 children between 1961 to 1982, has been sentenced to eight years in jail.
County Court Chief Judge Michael Rozenes said Ridsdale’s “unfettered sexual deviance” had been a blatant breach of the trust existing between priests and parishioners.
Ridsdale, 79, who has been in prison since 1994, was jailed yesterday for eight years with a non-parole period of five years after pleading guilty to 30 new charges involving sex offences against 11 boys and three girls.
He was first jailed for three months in 1993 after admitting to sexually abusing eight boys; jailed for 18 years in 1994 for sexually abusing 20 boys and one girl; and jailed for another 13 years in 2006 for sexually abusing 10 boys.
Judge Rozenes said Ridsdale had preyed on his vulnerable victims under the guise of being the ‘friendly priest’.
Ridsdale’s position in the church involved a high degree of trust and some degree of power and his offending had had a devastating impact on his young victims.
The Catholic Church had unfortunately allowed Ridsdale’s criminal behaviour to go unchecked for so long, Judge Rozenes said.
Ridsdale had been due for release on June 29, 2019, when he would be 85, before yesterday’s sentence was handed down.
He will now not be released, unless granted parole, until 2022 and is expected to die in prison.
Ridsdale’s victims were as young as four years old and many were altar boys whose lives had been destroyed by the evil predatory priest.
Ridsdale had been due for parole in August last year but was charged with the latest offences after more victims came forward to give evidence against him to the parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse.
The Broken Rites victim support group believes the actual total number of Ridsdale’s victims could be several hundred.