Former Priest Ridsdale Says Sorry

Catholic News [Australia]
February 18, 2007

Saying he had finally realised the damage he had caused to hundreds of people, convicted pedophile former priest Gerald Ridsdale has apologised to his victims and their families.

The Herald-Sun reports that Ridsdale, 72, who concedes he'll probably spend the rest of his life in jail, is expected to send a letter of apology in coming months to many of his victims.

Cardinal George Pell and Ballarat Bishop Peter Connors said if the remorse was genuine, it was at least a small step towards healing.

"I know I will never be able to make up for what I have done, but I hope that the knowledge that the courts have punished me with prison terms of 18 years in 1994, and 13 years in 2006, and that I will never again be able to live freely in a community, will help in some way to bring a sense of justice into your life," Ridsdale wrote from his Ararat jail cell.

Sources say Ridsdale helps counsel and care for other pedophiles at Ararat jail, attends mass every Friday and organises an annual Christmas dinner.

Ridsdale, considered possibly Victoria's most prolific child sex offender, is serving a minimum 19 years for raping and molesting 40 children, aged 6-16, between 1961 and 1987.

"I am now well aware of the far-reaching effects of my disgraceful behaviour, not only to you who would be considered to be my primary victims, but to so many other people and communities who have been affected," Ridsdale wrote.

"To parents and families of those I have abused, to their partners, to their extended families, to the communities in which they live, to the church communities, clergy and religious and teachers, to police who have had to investigate and deal with complaints, to social workers and counsellors, and not least of all to my own family and friends - you are all victims of my acts."

Ridsdale said he particularly regretted his victims had lost religious faith as a result of the abuse.

"I hope and pray that with help and support you will be able to find peace in your life and relationships."

But a victim said no apology could make up for the abuse inflicted on he and his brother.

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