June 24, 2019
By Suzanne Smith
The hunched, old priest walks briskly through the entrance of the Downing Centre court complex, a former grand department store on the fringes of Sydney’s business district. His eyes look down. A sports cap covers his nearly bald head.
Vince Ryan is one of the worst paedophiles in the history of the Australian Catholic Church. He sexually assaulted at least 37 boys. Most of them were primary school students, some as young as nine years old.
Aged 81, and still officially designated as a priest, he has already served 14 years in jail for his crimes. Last month, on a crisp autumn morning, he’s back in court waiting to find out if he will be sent to jail for more offences committed against two former altar boys in the 1970s and ‘90s.
As Ryan walks towards the court’s security cordon, he is followed by a man shouting obscenities. The word “survivor” is tattooed in black on his right arm. He is agitated, gesticulating towards the priest.
This man is Gerard McDonald. In 1974, he was 10 years old when Ryan abused him twice a week for a year, cornering boys in a church vestry and performing oral sex on them. In 1995, McDonald and another survivor were the first of Ryan’s victim to go to police. Although they won their case in 1996, they have never stopped pursuing the priest who defiled their childhood.
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