A BROKEN Rites volunteer researcher said yesterday former Ballarat Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale should appear before Australia’s proposed royal commission into church child abuse.
Retired academic Dr Bernard Barrett said Ridsdale should be questioned about how the church protected him throughout his three decades in parish work.
“Ridsdale began as a priest in 1960,” Dr Barrett said.
“According to court evidence, Ballarat Bishop O’Collins knew as early as 1971, and possibly in the 1960s, that Father Ridsdale was a danger to children.
“Nevertheless, the church continued to transfer him from parish to parish, imposing him on additional victims.”
Dr Barrett said Ridsdale was evacuated from the Ballarat diocese several times, to spend time-out in Melbourne, Sydney and the United States.
“These trips were interspersed with more postings in western Victoria, all of which ended in more crimes.
“Fellow priests knew about his transfers but all observed the code of silence.”
Dr Barett said a victim finally spoke to police detectives in 1993 and Ridsdale was charged.
“And the wheels of justice began to turn.
“The Royal Commission should investigate this cover-up thoroughly.”
Ridsdale was jailed in 1994 after pleading guilty to 46 charges of sexually abusing 21 victims over two decades, including many at Ballarat’s St Alipius Primary School.
He was also found guilty of a further 35 charges of indecent assault against 10 boys in 2006.
He is eligible for parole in June, with a final assessment to be presented to the Adult Parole Board in May.