Royal Commission Hearings with George Pell, Ronald Mulkearns Won’t Be in Ballarat

Perth Now
July 31, 2015

Gerald Ridsdale gives evidence at the child abuse Royal Commission in May.

ANGRY victims of some of the country’s most notorious paedophiles have slammed a decision by the Royal Commission not to return to Ballarat.

The child abuse Royal Commission controversially announced yesterday that its planned second hearing into institutional abuse in the regional town would now be held in Melbourne.

Cardinal George Pell and former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns are expected to attend the hearings in person.

But angry victims say the insensitive decision to hold the hearings at Melbourne’s County Court means some people won’t be able to attend.

Cardinal George Pell during an earlier appearance before the Royal Commission.

It is understood some victims are considering lobbying the Royal Commission to forced it to return to Ballarat.

Stephen Woods, who was raped and abused by Br Robert Best, Gerald Ridsdale and Ted Dowlan, said he was stunned by the commission’s decision.

“These hearings should be held in Ballarat, its where all the offending happened,” he said.

“Ballarat needs the healing.”

Both Cardinal Pell and Fr Mulkearns have been accused of playing a part in covering-up sexual abuse in the diocese between the 1970s and 1990s.

Cardinal Pell has maintained he never knew of any sexual offending by fellow clergy despite being accused of being complicit in the moving of a known paedophile and of ignoring a victim’s complaint.

He has also been accused of bribing a victim to keep quiet about his abuse. He has denied these claims as well.

Retired Bishop Ronald Mulkearns is expected to give evidence. Picture: Mike Dugdale

Cardinal Pell was stationed at Ballarat during the 1970s and 1908s and for part of that time lived with Gerald Ridsdale. He also acted as an adviser to Bishop Mulkearns.

Bishop Mulkearns has been accused of a widespread cover-up of abuse.

“That’s where they need to be made to publicly apologise,” Mr Woods said.

“The first sessions being held in Ballarat started a major change in the way Ballarat looks at itself. That needs to continue.

“It’s opened a major cesspit of Ballarat’s history and that absolutely needs to be lanced.”

In a statement issued yesterday the Royal Commission said it had moved the hearings to Melbourne “because of the logistic issues relating to the anticipated level of interest in the community.”

It will stream the hearings live to the Ballarat Town Hall.

“Its not really good enough,” Mr Woods said.









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