Denis Ryan, who worked as a detective for the Victoria Police in Australia in the 1970s, stumbled across a series of disturbing pieces of information. Ryan interviewed a nun, a teaching principal, and a string of victims, and found out that Monsignor John Day, a well-known priest in the community, was sexually abusing children.
Naturally, Ryan wanted to charge the pedophile priest. However, his superiors, who had close relations with Day, resisted Ryan’s efforts. However, Ryan kept working on the case, until the superintendent of police warned him that “he would be subject to discplinary action” unless he dropped the investigation. Ryan again did not stop, which led him to be reassigned to a different police station. According to the BBC, Ryan could not go through with the transfer due to family reasons. So he was forced to resign, and lost his career and police pension.
After he was pushed out of his job as detective, Ryan was devastated. He could no longer pursue the career that he had always dreamed of, and he said that his personal relationships also suffered as a result. Ryan ended up working as a fruit packer, and also worked on a book about his story, according to the Washington Post.
In 2013, Ryan co-authored a book called, Unholy Trinity: The Hunt For The Paedophile Priest Monsignor John Day. The book describes Ryan’s investigation into Day, and how the police force thwarted his efforts. A former Victorian chief commissioner confirmed the details of the book.
Denis Ryan's career was ruined after he tried to bring a paedophile priest to justice in Mildura, now he's been compensated @PatsKarvelas spoke to him on #rndrive https://t.co/AETcDJSsQl pic.twitter.com/V9fDwTAr9H— RN - Radio National (@RadioNational) May 7, 2018
Two years later, in 2015, the chief commisssioner, Graham Ashton, apologized to Ryan and Day’s victims. And on Sunday, the Victorian government announced that they would give Ryan “substantial payment” as compensation for the persecution he suffered when trying to investigate Day.
Today, Ryan is 86-years-old, and only had his state pension to rely on for income before the government decided to offer him a payment. It’s partly thanks to Vernon Knight, a former director of a child welfare organization, who petitioned the government to consider compensating Ryan.
Day died in 1978, after he was transferred to a parish that was far from his Mildura parish when Ryan started interviewing his victims.
Ryan says that although the compensation will help him, he’s still haunted by what he uncovered about Day.
“I still have nightmares about it. Though I have suffered during this, it is nothing compared to what the victims suffer.”