Dad undressed daughter before pedophile priest abused her on church altar: court

Megan Neil

A father undressed his daughter and laid her on a church altar where pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale indecently assaulted her, a court has heard.

Ridsdale, 83, has pleaded guilty to 23 charges, mainly indecent assaults but including rape, involving offences committed against 11 boys and one girl between 1962 and 1988.

Crown prosecutor Jeremy McWilliams said on one occasion in 1974 the 10-year-old girl was woken up by her father, while Ridsdale waited in the hallway, and driven with the priest to the church.

Australia's worst pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing another 12 children in the 1960s-1980s.Picture: AAP

"[The girl's] father carried her to the confessional booth and took her clothes off her then carried her to the altar and lay her down," Mr McWilliams told the Victorian County Court.

He then indecently assaulted her.

"Ridsdale told her: 'Jesus died for our sins so we could be forgiven and if I confess to this sin I might be forgiven.'

"Then he kissed her on the cheek."

Ridsdale told another of his victims that "it's our little secret", Mr McWilliams said.

"Ridsdale told him: 'Don't tell your mum and dad or your dad could die'."

Defence counsel Tim Marsh earlier said Ridsdale had a small fall and then fainted but said he is OK and insisted on going to court for his plea hearing on Tuesday.

The former Catholic priest has previously been convicted for sexually abusing 53 children between 1961, the year he was ordained, and the late 1980s.

If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual or domestic abuse, don't suffer in silence, call 1800 RESPECT any time of day or night.

Victorian sexual assault crisis line: 1800 806 292