Career and allegations of offences
Ridsdale worked at St Alipius Boy's School in the early 1970s, where he was a chaplain. At his 1994 trial it was claimed that he had been sent to a psychologist as early as 1971, though Bishop Ronald Austin Mulkearns claimed he had no idea of Ridsdale's actions until 1975, when the priest was in Inglewood, Victoria. One parent claimed that Ridsdale had molested their son, but they were reluctant to let the boy be questioned by police and the priest had moved. A police officer involved with the case spoke to Mulkearns; the latter promised to handle Ridsdale, but moved him on instead. In 1976, Ridsdale was moved to Edenhope, Victoria.
Operation Arcadia — a three-month police investigation into what Mulkearns knew about Ridsdale — concluded that he knew about Ridsdale's crimes earlier than he admitted.
Ridsdale was moved in 1980 to the National Pastoral Institute in Elsternwick, in Melbourne. In 1981 he was moved to Sydney. He was moved to Horsham, Victoria in 1986; there, two people made complaints about him in 1988. In 1990, Ridsdale was sent to New Mexico. He was appointed chaplain at St. John of God hospital in Richmond, New South Wales. While he was working there, a victim phoned Victoria police, leading to Risdale's arrest three months later.
In May 1993, Ridsdale charged on summons in Melbourne Magistrates Court with 30 incidents counts of indecent assault against nine boys aged between 12 and 16 between 1974 and 1980. Ridsdale pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months jail with a non-parole period of three months.
A few weeks later, Ridsdale was first put on trial on charges of sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 1994 after pleading guilty to 46 charges of abusing 20 boys and one girl between 1961 and 1982. He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment with a minimum of 15 years, to be served cumulatively with the previous sentence.
In 2006, he pleaded guilty to 35 charges relating to indecent assault against 10 boys between 1970 and 1987. He was sentenced in 2006 to 13 years imprisonment and with a minimum of seven years, three years of which was ordered to be served concurrently. A few of his victims criticised the sentence.
In 2013, Ridsdale was charged by Victoria Police with an additional 84 offences against 14 victims committed between 1961 and 1981 by Victoria Police weeks before he was eligible for parole. He pleaded guilty to 29 counts (27 of indecent assault, one count of buggery and one count of carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 16) committed between 1960 and 1980 and asked for a further 27 counts to be taken into consideration at sentencing, which will take place at a date to be fixed.
After pleading guilty to the above charges, including raping and abusing children as young as four, Ridsdale was sentenced to eight years in prison in April 2014 and will be eligible for parole in April, 2019. The latest charges bring the tally of Ridsdale's confirmed victims to 54.
Activism by victims
In 2008, 14 of Ridsdale's victims formed a group to lobby the Department of Justice for an independent justice commission to investigate how victims were paid varying amounts of compensation by the Catholic Church.
- Former priest pleads guilty to child abuse, ABC News, 7 August 2006, retrieved 25 November 2009
- Ellingsen, Peter (14 June 2002). "Ballarat's good men of the cloth". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- Nolan, Kellee (3 August 2011). "Church sex abuse inquiry 'not needed'". Herald Sun. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- Munro, Ian (8 June 2002). "How a priest stole a boy's innocence". The Age (Melbourne).
- Berry, Jamie (11 August 2006). "Victims slam pedophile sentence". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale pleads guilty to 29 child sex offences
- Sex abuse victims want inquiry, Mark Dunn, Herald Sun, 16 January 2008