(RightWing.org) – Like the United States, Australia has a long-running problem with Catholic Church officials abusing children. Bravehearts, a Queensland-based child advocacy group, reported that the average age of victims at the onset of abuse was 10.3 years, and it takes survivors roughly 23.9 years to tell anyone about the misconduct. In that context, a former priest, imprisoned for decades, recently had more time tacked on his sentence for exploiting scores of children.
On August 15, The Associated Press reported that Ballarat Magistrate Hugh Radford added 12 months to the 39-year prison sentence of Gerald Ridsdale. In June, the former Catholic priest pleaded guilty to assaulting a 13-year-old boy in 1987.
Now 89 years old, Ridsdale has been imprisoned since 1994. He pleaded guilty to abusing 20 underage boys and one girl from 1961 to 1982, initially receiving an 18-year sentence stipulating that he had to serve at least 15 years.
Ridsdale subsequently pleaded guilty to various charges involving child abuse, indecent assault on a minor, and carnal knowledge.
- 2006: 35 charges related to the abuse of 10 boys from 1970 to 1987. The court sentenced him to an additional 13 years imprisonment, with three years to be served concurrently with the remainder of his first sentence.
- 2013: 29 counts involving the abuse of 22 boys and one girl between 1960 and 1980. The court sentenced him to an additional eight years and set a parole eligibility date in April 2019.
- 2017: Ridsdale pleaded guilty to 23 offenses involving the abuse of 11 boys and one girl between 1962 and 1988. The court sentenced him to an additional 11 years, five to be served consecutive to the remainder of his current sentence.
Ridsdale must serve at least 33.5 years of his 40-year sentence, extending his earliest possible release date to April 2028. The disgraced pedophile priest attended the hearing via a video link from a prison hospital bed.
Prison doctors advised the court that Ridsdale had been bedridden since 2022 and recommended palliative care for unspecified medical afflictions. It appears the court wasn’t convinced as Magistrate Radford told Ridsdale he would “probably die in custody” shortly after passing sentence on the disgraced former priest.
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