Teen living with priest: Pell didn't know

The Advertiser
March 1, 2016

Teen living with priest: Pell didn't know

Cardinal George Pell said he did not know that notorious pedophile Gerald Ridsdale had a 14-year-old boy living with him in the presbytery in 1980s - despite widespread rumours about the priest's abuse of children.

Paul Levey has previously told the royal commission into child sexual abuse that in Easter 1982, when he was 14, he was sent to live at the presbytery at Mortlake with Ridsdale for about six months.

He slept in the same room as the priest and was abused all the time.

Mr Levey said it was common knowledge he was living there.

Cardinal George Pell on Tuesday - his second day of evidence to the child abuse royal commission - said he did not know about it even though by then he was privy to the "scandalous" rumours about Ridsdale when he was in Ballarat in the 70s.

At the time Dr Pell was director of the Aquinas College, Melbourne and principal of the entire institute of Catholic education.

"I certainly was not plugged into the life of the diocese like someone who would be working full time in parishes," he said.

Counsel advising the commission Gail Furness, SC, pointed out to him that clergy with whom he was acquainted knew of the arrangement.

The boy's mother and a nun had raised the issue with Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns.

The cardinal insisted he did not know until much later, perhaps in the 90s, but had he known he would have thought it was "most unusual, even if there was a resident housekeeper".

He was asked if he would have also been concerned about the safety of the boy.

Cardinal Pell: "Yes, I would have - but I would have been from the proposition that it was imprudent for any priest to do that".

He said that during his time as consulter to Bishop Mulkearns, it was never brought to his attention by Mulkearns or a string of other priests who were aware of the situation.

Cardinal Pell said that at the time people were reticent to talk about such things.

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan asked him if being reticent implied people had knowledge but did not talk about it.

Cardinal Pell said he as not suggesting that.


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