Former Catholic priest and serial pedophile Gerald Ridsdale has pleaded guilty to fresh child sex charges.
One of Australia’s worst pedophile priests, Gerald Ridsdale, has admitted to fresh abuse charges against 14 children, including an altar boy he plied with wine before assaulting him.
The former Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to 30 new charges, with the bulk of those indecent assaults.
The charges date to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and involve three girls and 11 boys.
Ridsdale, 79, pleaded guilty to the 30 charges in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday.
Magistrate Ian Alger struck out another 54 charges.
When Mr Alger asked Ridsdale if he intended to plead guilty to the charges, he replied: “I really wasn’t prepared for this.
“I haven’t spoken to my solicitor about what I’m supposed to do today.
“Your honour, I plead guilty. I plead guilty, yes.”
Ridsdale’s offences include an occasion in which he convinced the parents of one victim to allow their son to become an altar boy.
When he was left alone with the boy, he gave him wine before assaulting him.
He also assaulted a girl in his car on the side of a road while he was driving her to a holiday with her foster carers.
He is also charged with assaulting a four-year-old girl at her family’s shop.
Wayne Chamley, a spokesman for victims group Broken Rites, described Ridsdale’s confessions as “justice unfolding before our eyes”.
“It needs to be understood that his crimes were heinous and they affected hundreds and hundreds of children and hundreds and hundreds of families of victims,” Dr Chamley said.
Ridsdale is serving a long jail sentence for multiple child sex offences.
He was jailed in 1994 for 18 years for offences against 21 victims – 20 boys and one girl – while he was a priest at churches between 1961 and 1982.
He was convicted of further charges in 2006 for offences committed against 10 boys from 1970 to 1987 and was sentenced to a further 13 years.
He became eligible for parole in June.
The latest charges are a result of police taskforce Sano, which was set up to handle complaints of abuse raised during the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into institutional responses to child abuse.
The church was first approached with a complaint against Ridsdale when he was working in Inglewood in 1975, according to the inquiry’s report, tabled in parliament last week.
This prompted a bishop to move him to a different parish.
A complaint was also made against Ridsdale in Mortlake in 1982 and he later moved to Horsham, where another complainant came forward in 1988.
The inquiry said the church suspended Ridsdale’s priestly duties in 1988 and sent him to the US state of New Mexico for rehabilitation.
He was laicised from the church in November 1993, shortly after he came back from the US.
Ridsdale appeared in court via videolink from prison on Monday.
He will appear in the Victorian County Court on Wednesday for an arraignment and plea hearing.