How a pedophile priest destroyed a boy's life
Herald Sun, Melbourne 11 September 2006
By Geoff Wilkinson
HelenWatson vividly remembers the day, 25 years ago, that marked thebeginning of her son Peter's tragic end. Peter Watson was a student atMarian College Ararat where, in the presbytery next door, livedpedophile priest Father Paul David Ryan. Ms Watson yesterday recalledthe day when Ryan drove Peter home to their farm after the boy, then 15or 16, had spent the night in town at the presbytery and reeked ofalcohol. "Later that day I looked out the window and my son was upthe paddock throwing trees I would have thought no person couldphysically lift". He was throwing huge logs and building a big bonfire.When I got there he was an absolute mess. He was crying and screamingand told me to go away and wouldn't tell me what was wrong. "Peter wasnever the same after that." Her son later told her Ryan showed bluemovies to boys at the presbytery and gave them alcohol. Ryan pleadedguilty at Warrnambool Magistrates' Court on Friday to five charges ofindecently assaulting two other teenage boys at Penshurst in 1989-90,two years before he was moved to Ararat. Ms Watson this year got awritten apology from Bishop Peter Connors of the Ballarat diocese. Butshe can neither forgive nor forget. She had been a practising Catholicall her life, but I has totally lost her faith. There was evidencethe church knew of Ryan's tendencies before he was ordained in 1976,she said. Ms Watson said Peter was a troubled soul who could not cometo grips with his abuse. He used drugs, abandoned sports, led atransient life and tried to kill himself. By the time he was 24, hewas at a Ballarat psychiatric unit. He absconded in March 1999 and hismother never saw him alive again. Peter was found hanged in anAspendale bayside bathing box six months later. It was six years beforehis body was identified after a check of fingerprint records.
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.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia