Victims hope Ridsdale reveals truth

Daily Mail
May 25, 2015

Abuse victims hope Australia's worst pedophile priest reveals what the Catholic Church knew about his offending when he appears before a royal commission.

Gerald Francis Ridsdale will give evidence to the child sex abuse royal commission's Ballarat hearing for at least two days from Wednesday.

One of his victims, Stephen Woods, said it was important to hear from all sides to find out as much as possible about the institutional and systemic problems that facilitated the abuse.

"For a lot of people it will be very, very difficult, but this is a factor that has to be looked at," Mr Woods told AAP.

Andrew Collins, who was abused by other clergy in the Ballarat diocese, said Ridsdale's victims were positive about his appearance before the commission as they wanted the truth to come out.

"The church has traditionally covered everything up and I think if he will actually say what happened, that has the potential just to unlock a lot of those doors to get to those people who actually made those decisions," Mr Collins told AAP.

"There were two abusers: the first one was the actual people who did the offending, the second one is the hierarchy who knew and moved those people around. Essentially they facilitated the abusers.

"For us that's crucially important that that comes out."

Both men were among 17 Ballarat abuse survivors to share their stories with the commission last week. Mr Woods said that was very heavy going but also fulfilling.

"I was being heard by the highest court in the land," the 53-year-old said.

Mr Woods hasn't seen Ridsdale since 1994 when he was jailed for 18 years for abusing 21 victims, including Mr Woods. Ridsdale been since been sentenced twice for other offences and won't be eligible for parole before 2019 when he is 84.

"I'm much stronger because I understand a lot more, that it wasn't my fault," Mr Woods said.

"I was a child and I'm not alone - there are so many abuse victims from these organisations."



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