A defrocked Australian Catholic priest who was jailed for indecently assaulting school boys in Victoria could soon be extradited to the US to face a fresh spate of sexual abuse charges.
Former Ballarat priest Paul David Ryan has been indicted in the US state of Virginia on charges of sexual assault against a teenager at a ski resort in 1979.
Convicted paedophile priest Paul David Ryan.
Ryan had been sent to America to receive “treatment” after Melbourne Catholic authorities became concerned about his sexual activity with other seminarians when he was training to be a priest in Melbourne in the 1970s.
While in the US, he had been assigned to work in Virginia Beach as an ordained priest at Star of the Sea Parish and its affiliated school of the same name.
According to charges filed by Virginia Attorney-General Mark R. Herring, Ryan took the victim on a ski trip to Massanutten Resort in Rockingham County, Virginia “under the pretense of a church-sanctioned outing”. Ryan had arranged for the two of them to stay at a house together at the resort, where it is alleged that he sexually assaulted the victim twice.
The charges are the latest in a series of abuse claims against Ryan, who was jailed for two years and two months in July 2019 over the historical sexual abuse of three boys, aged 14,15 and 17 at the time of the assaults.
One victim had been training to be an altar boy and the other two were students at the Warrnambool Christian Brothers’ College, where Ryan worked as a school chaplain and provided sex education classes.
An Age investigation in 2019 also revealed that Ryan was part of a network of paedophiles coalescing around Corpus Christi in the 1970s – the Melbourne seminary that has produced about 1000 priests over almost 100 years, including some of the country’s worst paedophiles.
One former altar boy filed a civil claim in court alleging that he was taken to the seminary in October 1976 and left to wait in a communal living room with four or five other boys. Ryan then allegedly picked the boy from the group, took him back to a bedroom and sexually assaulted him.
“I recall that seminarians would come out through the corridor into the sitting room and select a boy to go back with them,” said the former St Peter’s altar boy. “He selected me by pointing at me and ushering me to follow him.”
The latest US charges against Ryan emerged from an ongoing investigation by the Virginia’s Attorney-General and its state police into whether criminal sexual abuse of children may have occurred in Virginia’s Catholic dioceses.
“Our investigation with Virginia State Police into potential clergy abuse in the Commonwealth remains ongoing and I want to encourage anyone who may have more information about this case or any other instances of abuse to please reach out to us as soon as possible,” said Attorney-General Herring said in a statement on Wednesday (AEST).
“I understand that coming forward with this kind of experience can be difficult or scary, but I pledge to you that, no matter how long ago the incident occurred, we will take it seriously and ensure that you get the support and help that you need and deserve.”
The Attorney-General’s office has said it would seek to extradite Ryan. Several accusers in Virginia have come forward against the former priest, now aged 72.
Ryan also spent time at Catholic University in Washington DC; a parish in Dayton, Ohio; and outposts for sexually troubled priests in New Mexico and Maryland.
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