An ex-priest from Australia, Gerald Ridsdale, was sentenced to prison for 39 years after he was convicted of child molestation. On Tuesday, an additional 1 year period was then added to his sentence because he abused a 72nd victim.
The eighty-nine-year-old ex-priest went through a number of convictions in 1994 and has been incarcerated ever since for child sexual abuse. It was stated that the abuse took place while Ridsdale was working across the state of Victoria in churches and schools as a Roman Catholic priest between 1961 and 1988.
The additional time was added when he was tried before the Ballarat Magistrates Court in June and pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a teenage boy (13 years old) in 1987 when he worked in Horsham as a Catholic school teacher.
Ridsdale is required to stay in prison for at least thirty-three and a half years before he will become eligible for parole and the earliest date he would be able to get is in April of 2028. However, his sentence has become longer due to eight extensions as more people have come forward as victims.
The ex-priest showed up to virtual court while he was in a prison bed and the judge, Magistrate Hugh Radford, mentioned that Ridsdale “will probably die in custody,” given the number of extensions his sentence has seen thus far, and in addition, his health was not the best. According to his doctors, the court was told that Ridsdale had been unable to get out of bed and walk since the middle of 2022, and although his medical condition was not given in full, palliative care was recommended.
Magistrate Radford told the ex-priest during the online hearing that he took advantage of the trust placed in him when he was given a position to guide and teach his victims. Ridsdale was constantly being moved from one church to the next during the time of 29 years as a priest (16 churches in total) and a child sex abuse investigation by the government yielded that his many relocations were evidence that his crimes were being covered up by the church.
Cardinal George Pell (the third-highest ranking cleric in the Vatican in 2024) also an Australian, was discovered to have been aware of Ridsdale’s wrongdoing for years. The two families were said to have been close.
However, Pell denied any knowledge of Ridsdale’s crimes. He passed away in January 2023 but spent one year and one month in prison after he was also convicted of child abuse. The convictions were overturned after they were appealed in 2020.