Australian diocese to pay millions in settlement in one abuse case

Catholic News Service via

September 30, 2019

By Michael Sainsbury

[PHOTO: David Ridsdale, who was sexually abused by his uncle, Gerald Ridsdale, then a priest, stands next to fellow sexual abuse survivors in Rome March 3, 2016. Lawyers say the Australian Catholic Church has opened the floodgates for tens of millions dollars in compensation claims after the Diocese of Ballarat admitted, for the first time, it knew of the behavior of the pedophile priest, yet continued to move him around from parish to parish.]

Australia’s Ballarat Diocese will pay up to $3 million (US$2.03 million) in a landmark compensation claim for clerical sexual abuse after a victim, code name JCB, won an out-of-court settlement for abuse during the early 1990s by Gerald Ridsdale, a former priest.

The case was against Bishop Paul Bird of Ballarat, because of actions by two now-deceased bishops: Ronald Mulkearns and James O’Collins. The case was only allowed after the Australian government struck down the so-called Ellis defense, which held that the church was not a legal “person.” Ridsdale, 85, is serving as the latest in a string of multiyear prison sentences after being found guilty of abusing 85 children.

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