Notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing four children during his time as a priest in western Victoria during the 1970s.
The 85-year-old will now spend 36 years in prison for the new child sexual abuse offences, which occurred while he was a priest in Warrnambool, Apollo Bay, Inglewood, Goroke and Edenhope from 1970 to 1979 .
Three years ago, he was sentenced to 33 years' imprisonment for sexually abusing children from 1961 to 1988. He has been in prison for 26 years, a year after he was laicised by the church.
Ridsdale, who was raised in Ballarat, will be eligible for parole on April 8, 2025, which adds three more years to his current non-parole period.
Judge Gerard Mullaly told Ridsdale at the County Court in Melbourne on Thursday he must be further punished for his crimes against the children.
"I must, when I consider the appropriate sentence, keep well in mind that at your age, my sentence may well mean that you are as a consequence more likely to die in custody," Judge Mullaly said.
"In my view those extensions are just and appropriate and are moderate given the gravity of what you did and the harm you caused, but moderate because they must be given your age, health and the sentences you are undergoing."
The judge said Ridsdale's moral culpability for these offences was very high.
"You knew what you were doing was profoundly wrong and harmful, but you kept doing these things to these children over and over. It seems you knew no boundaries or had any sense of restraint," Judge Mullaly said.
He said Ridsdale's offending was serious because the victims were very young, Ridsdale breached his position of great trust and he caused physical pain to his victims.
"They were vulnerable children and you simply used them and violated them for your perverse sexual gratification," Judge Mullaly said.
He said Ridsdale was first assigned to a parish in Ballarat in 1961, where his offending started before he was moved to 10 different parishes in country Victoria from 1962 to 1988.
"In terms of the length of your offending it seems it only came to an end when you were moved on to a new parish, which, as has been revealed only facilitated you exploiting a new group of children," the judge said.
Ridsdale pleaded guilty to 14 charges, including 10 charges of indecent assault and four charges of buggery. He was aged between 36 and 45 at the time of the offending, while the victims were aged between seven and 16.
On one occasion, Ridsdale 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.
Another victim was abused in his parent's bedroom when Ridsdale attended for meals and administer confession to members of the family.
One of the victim's said in his statement he could not see things changing for the rest of his life.
"I am single, alone, broke, depressed, embarrassed, forgetful and unemployed. I am wondering how I will afford and how I will get through tomorrow," he said.
"Things would have been different if this individual was not ever a part of my life."
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 latest offences bring Ridsdale's number of victims across western Victoria to almost 70 with fears he may have abused more children between 1961 and 1989.
Ridsdale has medical conditions and uses a walker but is otherwise in good health, the court was told.
Affected by this story? There is help available. You can phone the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, in Sebastopol, on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292. Or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380, or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277.
You can read the sentencing remarks in full here.