A PSYCHIATRIST who treated disgraced paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale described him as “seething with hostility and resistance” and impossible to stop.
Doctor Peter Evans, a former Franciscan priest, who treated Ridsdale in 1975 said for offenders like Ridsdale the only option was incarceration or medically suppressing their sexual urges.
The treatment at retreat centre in Melbourne followed Ridsdale being removed from Inglewood in the middle of the night for abusing a policeman’s son. Dr Evans told the inquiry Ridsdale’s only concern during his sessions was his own welfare and the fear he could be investigated by police.
The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse heard once Ridsdale realised he wouldn’t be charged with the sexual abuse allegations made against him, his symptoms of anxiety disappeared. Dr Evans said Bishop Mulkearns never followed up with him or sought a treatment report for Ridsdale but allowed him back into the diocese to continue to offend. Dr Evans told the inquiry he believed there were three types of priests involved in child sexual abuse. The first category was extreme abusers like Ridsdale.
“The hadcore sexual abusers had significant personality disorders, most of them lacked empathy or any insight into the impact their behaviour would have on others,” Dr Evans said. “It’s almost impossible to stop them acting out.”
He told the commission there was another group of soft-core paedophiles, who would act out by fondling children but then would feel an immediate sense of guilt, go to confession and be willing to seek treatment.
He defined the last group as homosexuals who entered into religious life and once the constraints of seminary training were lifted their sexual fantasies would take effect and they would engage in sexual relationships with adolescent boys.
He said treatment was only effective in priests where a number in specific circumstances were present, including an admission of guilt and a willingness to seek treatment. Dr Evans said he did not believe paedophilia was borne out of a vow of celibacy and said it was usually ingrained in a person from a young age.
“Sexual deviancy does not arise in adult life,” he said. “It begins in childhood and adolescence. It may manifest itself in adulthood with actual acting out.”
He said men who experience deviant sexual fantasies and join the priesthood were deeply “disturbed” and may seek out the profession to suppress their sexual urges. “The unfortunate thing is as soon as those external constraints are taken away, the acting out behaviour tends to emerge,” he said.
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