A defence lawyer has argued notorious paedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale should not receive more jail time for abusing four boys.
The four victims told the court of the ongoing trauma and long-lasting social, emotional, financial and physical effects that continue more than three decades on from incidents of abuse, during a plea hearing on Monday.
Ridsdale, 85, pleaded guilty to 14 charges at the County Court of Victoria, including 10 charges of indecent assault and four charges of buggery.
The charges relate to the abuse of four child victims during Ridsdale's time as a priest in western Victoria during the 1970s.
The latest court appearance brings Ridsdale's number of victims across western Victoria to almost seventy with fears that he may have abused even more children in the years between 1961 and 1989.
The court heard the latest cases of abuse to come to light occurred at Warrnambool, Apollo Bay, Inglewood, Goroke and Edenhope.
Ridsdale was aged between 36 and 45 years at the time of offending. The victims were aged between seven and 16 years.
The prosecution summary states some of the charges relate to an instance in 1974 when Ridsdale took the victim from Warrnambool on a trip to Apollo Bay.
Ridsdale gave the 11-year-old victim alcohol before sodomising him, causing bleeding and pain for a number of days.
The prosecution summary states when Ridsdale was a priest in Inglewood, he fondled a seven-year-old's penis a number of times over a three-month period, often while they would sit in the car together and when Ridsdale would read the Bible to the boy.
Other charges of buggery and indecent assault relate to the abuse of two brothers when they were between 15 and 16 and 12 and 14 years.
The offending happened in the boy's family home, when Ridsdale took the boys shooting rabbits at night and when they were staying at the presbytery.
The victim impact statements of four victims, two who were brothers, and the brother's elderly parents, were tendered to the court.
One victim wrote in his statement the emotional, psychological, social and financial impacts of the abuse had changed his life forever.
The man said he was unable to sleep, concentrate, perform regular duties or engage in social interactions.
He said he had recurring flashbacks from the childhood incidents, was now dependent on alcohol and antidepressants, had lost his job, ruined his relationship with his wife and children, and was living with his elderly parents.
"I can't see things changing for the rest of my life," the man wrote in the victim impact statement.
I am single, alone, broke, depressed, embarrassed, forgetful and unemployed. I am wondering how I will afford and how I will get through tomorrow.Ridsdale's victim
"Things would have been different if this individual was not ever a part of my life."
The court heard one victim had never properly learnt to read and write since he was seven-years-old, because Ridsdale used to read to him while he sat in his lap as a boy.
"I still haven't told my mum (about the abuse) and I can't because it would kill her. My wife and I are finding it hard to cope," he said in his victim impact statement.
"Ridsdale took advantage of his power over us. It makes me feel sick and ashamed. It is not my shame to carry and I know that. But some days it is hard not to feel it.
The victim thanked police and the people he had backed him in speaking out.
"I hope more people have the courage to report so they can find some sort of peace."
Another victim said he had long felt hurt, angry and frustrated and found it difficult to put the incident out of his thoughts.
"It took many many years for anger and constant recollections to subside," the man wrote in his victim impact statement.
"My innocence was taken from me by someone I was meant to be able to trust.
"I had trouble sleeping, the sound of squeaking floorboards still frightens me and I still have flashbacks at night.
"These feelings won't ever leave me."
The man said his physical injuries as a result of the incidents were significant, including anal damage and constant bleeding and pain that continued to impact him 'to this day'.
The elderly parents of two of the victims said in their victim impact statement they felt sick when their children told them of the abuse much later in their lives.
"The guilt we felt for not being there for them at the time was overwhelming, even though we did not know then what was happening to them," they said in a victim impact statement.
We trusted our innocent beautiful children with this bastard without question, when we should have been more vigilant on their behalf.A victim's parents
"We still struggle with the guilt that has left us with. Not a day goes by without thought of the effect it has had on our boys and us. We know Ridsdale is in jail, but that does not make us feel any relief or satisfaction.
"Guilt, sorrow and hurt will be with us forever. Our boys deserved better than this in their lives. They were deprived of their innocence by a filthy, conniving, make-believe priest and paedophile."
Ridsdale has already served 26 years in a Victorian prison after he was jailed in 1994.
There have been a number of court cases throughout his time of imprisonment, as more victims come forward, totalling at least 179 charges and 69 victims.
Ridsdale is currently eligible for parole in 2022. He would be 87-years-old.
Ridsdale's sentence is due to expire in 2028, when he would be 94-years-old.
Depending on sentencing for the new charges, this parole and sentence end date could be extended or remain unchanged.
Defence lawyer Tim Marsh argued Ridsdale should not receive an increase in jail time for these new charges.
He said Ridsdale showed insight into the trauma he had caused victims and the nature of his paedophilia and realised he was unfit to have ever been a priest.
Mr Marsh submitted Ridsdale should not be sentenced as the same man who was sentenced in 1994 as he was older, had been punished continuously for 26 years, had engaged in extensive rehabilitation and had little of his life left before him.
"My submission is that the sentence should not interfere with the earliest possible release date," he said.
"He is subject to a total effective sentence of 34 years already. That sentence - the impact on him and its service in deterring like conduct - already fulfils the purpose of sentencing."
Mr Marsh said consideration must be given to Ridsdale's show of remorse in pleading guilty, however aggravating factors to the offending were acknowledged, including the great breach of trust, the duration of offending and the degree of force to commit the offences themselves.
Mr Marsh said while Ridsdale took individual responsibility for the offending, the role of the church in moving him to different locations and the way the standing of the church made victims feel they would not be believed could not be laid as failings at Ridsdale's feet.
"Had Mr Ridsdale been in some other position of authority that allowed him to offend in the way he did, it is unlikely he would have ended up with (almost) 70 victims," he said.
"There is something unique about the fact he had the apparatus of the Catholic Church behind him that led to this predicament.
"He bears and takes individual responsibility. But had he been a man with the same characteristics in any other walk of life, it is highly unlikely the offending would have carried on for the length of time it did."
Judge Gerard Mullaly questioned Mr Marsh about the victim's confidence in the justice system to see an outcome in relation to his submission jail time should not be extended.
In response, Mr Marsh said he did not believe there was any sentence that could be imposed to fully address the impact on the victims 'at this point in time'.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Moore said any sentence imposed should extend Ridsdale's non-parole period.
"No extension to the non-parole period would mean there is no meaningful and effective adverse consequence at all in the sentence," he said.
Ridsdale was ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1961 and was initially assigned to the Ballarat Diocese.
Judge Gerard Mullaly will sentence Ridsdale at 1pm on Thursday May 14.
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
RIDSDALE'S LIFE AND OFFENDING
1934 - Born May 20, St Arnaud, Victoria
Primary school St Aloysius, Redan
Secondary school St Patrick's College, Ballarat
1954-1958 - Studied for priesthood Corpus Christi College, Werribee. Began offending.
1958-1960 - Seminary, Collegio Brignole Sale, Genoa
1960-1961 - Seminary, All Hallows College, Dublin
1961 - July 25, ordained at St Patrick's Cathedral, Ballarat. Fills in at five parishes including Horsham, Inglewood, Camperdown and Ballarat North
1962-1964 - Assistant priest at Ballarat North. First complaint from a boy at Villa Maria boarding school in Ballarat East
1964-1974 - Assistant priest Mildura, Swan Hill, Warrnambool and Ballarat East
1974-1975 - Parish priest Apollo Bay. Puts in for transfer after a man tells him in a pub there's talk about him and kids
1975 - Parish priest Inglewood. Panics and leaves overnight after a woman says there is talk he has been interfering with boys and police are making inquiries. Sent for counselling
Early 1976 - Temporarily appointed to Bungaree
1976-1979 - Administrator then parish priest Edenhope
1980 - Study leave, National Pastoral Institute. Offended there
1981-1982 - Parish priest Mortlake. Prolific offender
1982 - Starts on-and-off counselling
1982-1985 - Catholic Enquiry Centre, Sydney. Offends against boy from parish prayer group who became his altar boy. Centre director says "I want him out of here"
Early 1986 - Short periods as Woy Woy assistant priest and Forestville administrator, both in then Sydney archdiocese
July 1986-May 1988 - Assistant priest Horsham. Written complaint about offending while in Horsham
April 1988 - Steps down from parish work
June 1988 - Suspended for 12 months
1989-1990 - Residential program in New Mexico. Admitted to police he offended in US. Ridsdale says didn't offend from time he returned to Australia and his 1993 arrest
March/April 1991 - Assistant priest St John of God Hospital, Richmond, NSW
May 1993 - Admits indecently assaulting eight children. Sentenced to two years and three months.
November 1993 - Defrocked
August 1994 - Admits abusing 20 boys and one girl from 1961-1982
October 1994 - Jailed for 18 years
August 2006 - Sentenced to 13 years; admits abusing 10 boys from 1970-1987
April 2014 - Sentenced to eight years; admits abusing 11 boys, three girls from 1961-1980
December 2016 - Charged with fresh historical sex abuse charges
April 2017 - Ridsdale pleads guilty to latest charges
August 2017 - Faces pre-sentencing hearing in Victorian County Court after pleading guilty to 23 charges involving 11 boys and one girl over offences from 1962 to 1988.
RIDSDALE'S CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN: A COURT HISTORY
* Australia's most prolific paedophile priest has been in jail since August, 1994
* Previously convicted of 138 offences against 53 victims
* Total effective sentence of 28 years' jail, before 2017 charges
* Has pleaded guilty to further offences against 12 victims
* Believed to have abused up to 1000 children, victims' group Broken Rites says
* First offence for which he was later convicted -1961, the year he was ordained, but began offending while in the seminary in the 1950s
* Defrocked in 1993 after first convictions
1993 COURT CASE
* Convicted of sexually assaulting eight children
* Pleaded guilty to 27 offences
* Sentenced to two years and three months, suspended after three months
1994 COURT CASE
* Convicted of sexually assaulting 20 boys and one girl
* Pleaded guilty to 46 offences between 1961 and 1982
* Included abusing a boy and girl after presiding over their father's funeral and indecently assaulting an altar boy during confession
* Jailed for 18 years, with 15-year minimum
2006 COURT CASE
* Convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys from 1970-1987
* Pleaded guilty to 35 offences
* Sentenced to 13 years' jail, with seven-year minimum
* Included sexual abuse in the confessional, in the sacristy, in the presbytery, in his car - following Mass, first holy communion, confirmation, weddings and funerals
2014 COURT CASE
* Convicted of sexually abusing 11 boys and three girls
* Pleads guilty to 30 offences between 1961 and 1980
* Victims included a girl aged four when offending began, three children in one family
* Sentenced to eight years' jail, with five-year minimum
2017 COURT CASE
* Has pleaded guilty to 23 offences against 11 boys and one girl
* Majority indecent assault charges