One of Australia’s most notorious pedophile priests’ latest set of convictions is further evidence of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of abuse, a victim’s advocacy group says.
Broken Rites spokesman Bernard Barrett said the church turned a blind eye to Gerald Ridsdale’s abuse of children.
“His colleagues and his superiors knew for 30 years,” Dr Barrett told AAP.
“They inflicted him on more and more victims and more and more parishes.
“That’s what really matters, the cover up, which is now being exposed.
“It’s taken 20 years to get the story out and the whole story hasn’t been told.”
Dr Barrett says there are victims yet to see justice regarding Ridsdale.
“They don’t quite know what to do about it. They think they’ll get over it.
“But in fact they’re now aged 40 or 50 or whatever and they haven’t gotten over it.
“The longer they leave it, the more of a worry it is for them.”
Lawyer Angela Sdrinis has acted for a number of victims alleging abuse by Ridsdale, but says not all have had the strength to report it to police.
Ms Sdrinis says the fact victims keep coming forward and Ridsdale keeps making admissions points to systemic failures of the Catholic Church and its religious orders.
But victims are still denied justice because the church continues to rely on a type of defence that says there is no legal entity victims can sue.
“No matter how strong the evidence against the church, there is no legal entity that can be forced to take responsibility in these historical sex abuse claims,” she said.
In sentencing Ridsdale on Tuesday, Victorian County Court chief judge Michael Rozenes found many of his victims came forward following the parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations by churches and non-government organisations.
The church now regards Ridsdale as one of the worst child sex offenders in Australia’s history, and accepts 67 claims of abuse against him.
The state inquiry noted only a small number of civil cases alleging criminal child abuse in an organisational setting have been determined in Australia and it was unaware of any cases that made it to trial in Victoria.