Abuse Victim Receives Multi-million-dollar Payout from Catholic Church

By Andrew Thomson
Sydney Morning Herald
September 27, 2019

The Catholic Church is expected to pay out as much as $3 million in a landmark legal settlement with a man who was raped in the confessional when he was a nine-year-old boy by notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.

The settlement in the first civil case in which the church admitted liability for the actions of a paedophile cleric is expected to have a massive impact on hundreds of other law suits filed in Victorian courts.

JCB, who was raped by paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale as a boy, has dedicated his multi-million-dollar payout from the Catholic Church to other victims.

Experts estimate the case was resolved for between $2 million and $3 million but combined legal costs – for the plaintiff and the church, of about $1.5 million – will be taken out of that figure.

The plaintiff has dedicated his landmark payout to victims of clergy abuse who have taken their own lives.

The lawsuit is expected to lead to a string of settlements based on the estimated payout figure and the legal liability precedent.

The church in Victoria is facing at least 800 new legal actions for child sexual abuse in the wake of the state government’s decision to abolish the so-called “Ellis defence”.

This ended the church’s long-standing immunity to lawsuits and opened a floodgate of new claims that are threatening the financial stability of religious organisations across the state.

The victim, known as JCB, said he was relieved the legal process was over after being involved in both criminal and civil cases.

"Nothing will make up for what happened to me and so many others," he said.

"I feel we have achieved something for myself and the others caught up in this mess. I feel we held the church accountable and I feel vindicated.

"My main bone of contention was that this should have been prevented, that's what really enraged me. I should never have been a victim, that was the biggest thing I've had to deal with."

The victim said he hoped the civil litigation process would now be easier for those who follow.

"It's also something very real for the people who didn't make it, those victims who took their own lives, some of whom I know," he said.

"We've held the church accountable and I hope that's some small recognition, some small solace, for the families of those who are not with us.

"The church didn't get away with it."

JCB said one way he coped when he was young was through his belief the church authorities would do the right thing.

"I had the blind assumption that when [former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns] found out about what was happening he would come and sort it all out," he said.

"It never happened and when his knowledge about the abuse was revealed it was crushing. We were not talking about one bad apple, we were talking about the whole orchard."

Gerald Ridsdale (left) faces court in 1993.

JCB also thanked his lawyers Chris Atmore, Judy Courtin and David O'Brien.

"Chris, Judy and David are more than my solicitors, they are my friends and involved for all the right reasons," he said.

Ridsdale was moved from parish to parish within the Ballarat Diocese, starting at St Alipius in Ballarat, before serving at Warrnambool, Inglewood, Apollo Bay, Edenhope and eventually Mortlake.

He admitted molesting hundreds of children.

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns officiates at a mass in 1980.

Bishop Mulkearns knew about complaints from Inglewood in 1975 after a police officer became involved and informed the bishop of the complaint against Ridsdale.

The church has not had a court rule on a case prior to this matter and has been eager to resolve cases through mediation.








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