Church gave paedophile free rein to abuse

The West Australian

Amanda Banks
March 1, 2016

The man who some label Australia’s worst paedophile priest was given “chance after chance after chance”, Cardinal George Pell admitted yesterday.

Former Ballarat priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale was the subject of repeated allegations and complaints of child sex abuse but was ultimately given freedom to seek out new victims as he was shifted around from one parish to another.

Ridsdale, who went on to be convicted of committing 138 offences against 53 victims, was even shipped off to the US for “treatment” and “therapy”.

Questioned about the handling of Ridsdale’s case by his then superiors, in particular former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, Cardinal Pell said he had recently read the file on the child sex offender.

“The way he was dealt with was a catastrophe,” Cardinal Pell told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. “If action had been taken earlier, an enormous amount of suffering would have been avoided.”

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