Former Virginia Beach priest charged with sexual assault of minor

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A former Virginia Beach Catholic priest has been charged with sexual assault of a minor in Virginia after an investigation into abuse in the church by Virginia authorities.

Paul David Ryan, 72, was indicted by a Rockingham County jury on two felony counts of carnal knowledge by force of a minor under the age of 18, according to a release from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office. Authorities say the assault happened between 1979 and 1980 when he was an ordained Catholic priest assigned to Star of the Sea Parish and its affiliated Star of the Sea school.

In the alleged assault in Rockingham County, Ryan took the victim to Massanutten Resort during church-sanctioned outings, where authorities say he sexually assaulted the victim twice.

Ryan, who is an Australian national, has been living in Australia, where he had previously pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault of two teenage boys.

He is currently in custody and in the process of being extradited back to Virginia, Herring’s office said.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond released a statement Tuesday afternoon about the indictments.

“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has fully cooperated with the ongoing clergy abuse investigation by the Virginia Attorney General since it started in October 2018 and will continue to do so,” the statement said.

The statement also said Ryan worked at the Star of the Sea Catholic Church for less than a year.

“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 Herring. “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.”

He’s one of dozens of Catholic priests from Virginia with credible and substantiated allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1950s. Herring’s office says these are the second charges resulting from the probe with Virginia State Police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Virginia Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064 or at www.VirginiaClergyHotline.com.

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