Former Priest And Convicted Pedophile Pleads Guilty To 72nd Victim, Faces 193rd Conviction

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John Oyewale Contributor
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An Australian former Catholic priest and convicted child sex offender pleaded guilty Thursday to sexually abusing his 72nd victim, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Gerald Ridsdale, 89, of the Australian state of Victoria, pleaded guilty in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court by video link from a prison hospital where he is bedridden, according to the AP news report. His 72nd victim was a 13-year-old boy when Ridsdale allegedly assaulted him in 1987.

Ridsdale will be sentenced Aug. 15 on his 193rd conviction for child sex abuse, according to the report.

The former priest, jailed since 1994, is serving a 39-year sentence for a slew of convictions for abusing children between 1961 and 1988 while serving as a priest in churches and schools across Victoria, according to the AP. His latest sentence came in October 2022 for the abuse of two brothers between 1981 and 1982. (RELATED: More Than 150 Priests In Maryland Sexually Assaulted Children, New Report Finds)

One of Ridsdale’s many victims was a 10-year-old girl, whom Ridsdale violated on a church altar in collusion with the girl’s father, The Guardian reported. Ridsdale allegedly said to the girl, “Jesus died for our sins so we could be forgiven and if I confess to this sin I might be forgiven.” The girl allegedly testified that she “thought it was never going to stop,” according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Another victim was a nine-year-old altar boy to whom Ridsdale allegedly said, “God will forgive all of your sins,” while violating him, The Guardian reported. Thereafter, he reportedly told the sobbing boy to pray for forgiveness and threatened him with God’s judgment on his family if he spoke out. Ridsdale’s youngest victim reportedly was a six-year-old child, according to ABC News.

Ridsdale was shuffled between church posts 16 times over his 29-year clerical stint, with the frequent relocations allegedly serving as evidence that the Catholic Church attempted to cover up his crimes, the AP reported.