Gerald Francis Ridsdale

Address: Vic, Australia
Age: 88
Sex: Male
Occupation: Priest


Date: 8 April 2014
Charges: Indecent assault of a female under the age of 16 x4; indecent assault on a male person under 16 years x24; carnal knowledge of a girl of or above the age of 10 years and below the age of 16; buggery of a male under 14 years
Category: Paedophilia Sex Offence
Court: County Court of Victoria
Judge: Judge Rozenes
Penalty: 8 years’ imprisonment

The County Court of Victoria convicted Gerald Francis Ridsdale to four charges of indecent assault of a female under the age of 16; 24 charges of indecent assault on a male person under 16 years; one charge of carnal knowledge of a girl of or above the age of 10 years and below the age of 16; and, one charge of buggery of a male under 14 years.

The offending is historical, spanning almost two decades between December 1961 and December 1980.

The first complainant was made a Ward of the State at age 5 and spent her younger years moving around various institutions. Between the ages of 10 and 13 Ridsdale offended against her on a number of occasions, in almost identical fashion. He would drive her to and from the institution in which she was residing and, during the trip, he would pull over and force her to fellate him while he penetrated her vagina with his fingers. On other occasions, he drove her and her sisters to the beach, separated her from her sisters, and forced her to fellate him while he digitally penetrated her vagina. On each occasion he ejaculated into her mouth. On each occasion she was crying and felt pain as a result of the digital penetration. He warned her against telling others of his offending and gave her lollies or ice cream in order to buy her silence.

The second complainant was aged between 9 and 10 years at the time of Ridsdale’s offending against him. He was made a Ward of the State at an early age before he was placed into the care of the Nazareth Boy’s Orphanage in Sebastopol. Ridsdale befriended him and told him that he was going to make him his altar boy and that Ridsdale wanted to groom him for that position. About 4 weeks after he arrived at Nazareth Boy’s Orphanage, Ridsdale corralled him into an empty room and locked the door. As he bent over to pick something up from the floor, Ridsdale grabbed his buttocks, slid down his shorts, and penetrated his anus with his finger which, he says, “hurt like hell”. He jumped up in an attempt to escape and Ridsdale tried to grab him again, telling him that he was doing the “Lord’s work”. He managed to escape the room by climbing out the window. For more than a week after this incident he experienced bleeding from his anus.

The third complainant was aged 10 or 11 at the relevant time. His mother was a devout Catholic who regularly attended church and Ridsdale was introduced to his family via the church. Ridsdale often attended the family home after Mass. During this time, he would accompany Ridsdale on bird watching trips and, in February or March of 1966, after bird watching they both returned to the car, where Ridsdale asked him to remove his clothes down to his underwear. Ridsdale did the same. Ridsdale lay across the back seat of the car and had the victim lie on top of him with their chests touching. Ridsdale put his arm around him and the victim noticed that Ridsdale was sighing and breathing heavily. They both remained in that position for a period of time before putting your clothes back on.

The fourth complainant was aged between 4 and 11 years when Ridsdale offended against her. Her parents separated when she was aged 3 and she and her brothers lived between her father’s and her aunt’s place in Ballarat. Ridsdale frequented the aunt’s house and would enter her bedroom to ask her about her parents, take her to the milk bar and bought her lollies in order to gain her trust. He told her that she was “special” and that she was “God’s little angel”. In around 1966, when she was aged 4, she was sitting upstairs on a couch when he sat next to her and forced her to fellate him, causing her to gag. She does not remember whether he ejaculated on this occasion.

When aged 10 or 11, she followed Ridsdale into his bedroom to look at his rock collection but she noticed a pornographic magazine and ran out of the room. He got angry, caught her and instructed her to bend over and touch her toes whereupon he pulled her down pants and penetrated her vagina with his penis, causing her a great deal of pain. After he ejaculated, he had her lick his penis. He told her to stop running away from him and warned her not to say anything to anyone because no one would believe her.

During the same period of time, whilst at her aunt’s house in Ballarat, she fell over and scraped her knees. Ridsdale gave her a piggy-back to the parish house and sat her on the kitchen bench where he removed her pants and started cuddling and kissing her inappropriately, something she described as “horrible”. He carried her into a room with no beds and made her face the window with her back to him. He removed his belt and she tried to run. He returned her to the room, told her that she was naughty for trying to run away and that she had to be punished and repent for her sins. He made her bend over and touch her toes before he placed his hands on her hips and inserted his penis into her vagina, causing her pain. She does not recall whether or not he ejaculated on this occasion.

At the conclusion of the school holidays in 1973, she was aged 10 to 11 when she visited him at the presbytery. He told her she was wicked and naughty and needed to be punished and took her to the confessional box inside the church. He told her to kneel and say “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned and with God’s help I will not sin again. Oh my God, I am very sorry that I have sinned against you. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned”. He then forced her to fellate him, an experience she described as “absolutely revolting”. Afterwards, he gave her a bag of lollies and warned her not to tell anyone what had happened.

The fifth complainant was 10 or 11 years of age when he was sexually abused by Ridsdale. He was the altar boy at the Star of the Sea Parish Church. Between 1974 and 1975 he went with Ridsdale to the church the Wye River church to assist with clean up. While he was sweeping the floor, Ridsdale came up behind him and hugged him tightly. He was squirming and trying to escape at which point Ridsdale asked him, “Do you like this?” He responded, “Not really.” Ridsdale reached inside his trousers and fondled his genitals, held his penis and attempted to masturbate him. Ridsdale was grinding his erect penis into the victim’s back as he did this. Ridsdale repeatedly asked, “Do you like this?” to which he consistently answered “No.” Afterwards Ridsdale gave him a packet of ‘Cool Mints’ and warned him that “this is a secret between us and you know not to talk about the game we have played?” He replied, “Yes, Father, it’s a secret between us, Father.”

In around 1974 Ridsdale started up an after-school boys gathering, which he used as a means of perpetrating his sexual abuse. The method of his offending was similar in each case: he would isolate the boy and commit sexual acts ranging from fondling, mutual masturbation, and fellatio. On occasions, he penetrated the boy’s anus with his finger or penis. He often used his interest in collecting rocks or panning for gold as an inducement and he often warned the boys against telling others of what he had done together.

Ridsdale offended in this manner against the the sixth through tenth complainants. On each occasion, the offending occurred in the context of the after-school boys’ gatherings that Ridsdale had organised.

The eleventh complainant was 9 or 10 at the time of Ridsdale’s offending against him. He is the twin brother of complainant twelve and the brother of complainant thirteen. All three siblings were victims of Ridsdale ‘s sexual abuse. There was another brother who committed suicide at the age of 21.

Ridsdale ‘s offending against these three complainants took place in the January 1980 school holidays. He drove the three to Edenhope for a week-long stay. His method of offending as against the two brothers was the same: he invited each boy to his bed to cuddle where he committed sexual acts upon them. These acts included fondling, fellatio, masturbation and digital anal penetration. Ridsdale provided cash to the boys to buy their silence and called each of the boys your “special friend”.

The thirteenth complainant was aged between 12 and 13 when Ridsdale offended against her. He offended against her whilst she was on the same trip to Edenhope with her brothers in 1980 by kissing her inappropriately on the mouth on a number of occasions.

The fourteenth complainant was aged between 6 and 7 years at the time Ridsdale sexually abused him. Ridsdale commenced studies at the same institute as his mother and used this relationship to befriended the boy and to initiate sexual contact with him. On one occasion, he attended Ridsdale’s cottage and the two of them were alone. Ridsdale knelt beside him, removed his pants and underpants and fellated him. Shortly after this incident, Ridsdale placed his erect penis into the victim’s mouth, trying to force to fellate him. On another occasion, Ridsdale and the victim went to a local beach and Ridsdale kissed him, inappropriately, on the mouth.

Judge Rozenes said, “A major aggravating feature of this kind of offending is that we now know that the effect on young victims is ongoing. This was made abundantly clear in the Victim Impact Statements of your complainants, who continue to suffer mental health issues, and have attempted suicide as a result of your abuse of them.”

Ridsdale was sentence to 8 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 5 years.