Vic police confirm US investigations of former priest

A Warrnambool detective has confirmed that US authorities have been in regular contact with Victorian police as part of their investigations of alleged offences committed by a jailed former priest, Paul David Ryan.

According to a Warrnambool Standard report, American authorities are investigating the movement in Virginia in 1977-1979 of the former Ballarat priest, who was last year convicted of molesting two alter boys in Penshurst.

"I've been in contact numerous times (with American authorities) and they are looking into similar offences," said Senior Constable Colin Ryan.

Reports of the investigation emerge as the local paper publishes the text of an apology to victims by another convicted pedophile former priest, Gerard Ridsdale (pictured).

The Warrnambool Standard also reports that in the single-page letter he typed in Ararat prison, Ridsdale wrote that he was finally aware of the far-reaching impacts his actions had on victims, their families and communities.

September's conviction for sexually abusing 10 boys between 1970 and 1987 in western Victoria adding another four years to the sentence he was already serving.

Ridsdale, who has already spent 12 years behind bars, will be eligible for parole in 2013 when he is 79.

Victims from last September's case were from Mortlake, Warrnambool, Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh, Horsham and Edenhope.

Ridsdale's abuse is believed to extend as far back as 1961 in Camperdown.

Ballarat Bishop Peter Connors yesterday told The Standard he had not directed Ridsdale to write the statement. "It's his own statement. I think it was made after the court appearance," Bishop Connors said.

"Over the past 10 years I've meet with victims and expressed my regret and that I'm deeply sorry for what happened."

Sergeant Kevin Carson, of Ballarat's criminal investigation unit, said the letter forwarded to police by the Office of Public Prosecutions to give victims was unusual.

"It's surprising given there has been plenty of opportunity in the last ten years... it may well be too late for some people," Sergeant Carson said.

Monster's apology (Warrnambool Standard, 20/2/07)
US investigates local priest (Warrnambool Standard, 20/2/07)

US call to prosecute Australian ex-priest (CathNews, 31/1/07)
Ballarat compensates US victims of another jailed priest (CathNews, 11/9/06)
Ex-priest granted bail on indecent assault charges (CathNews, 21/4/06)

21 Feb 2007