Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Your Darling Dr. Bert

Noreen Wood made her first suicide attempt in August of that year and was sent to the Melbourne Clinic - the first of 10 admissions over the next four years. Meanwhile, 
Fr. Herbert Balding, S.J.  (here) , (here) and (here) was moved to the Jesuit centre at Sevenhill in South Australia, where he wrote to her that the ''shrinks are not doing you any good. It's time to put yourself into the hands of your darling Dr Bert''. Somehow, he persuaded her husband and her psychiatrist that she needed a holiday, and he arranged for her to come to Sevenhill, where he would try to have sex with her while the other Jesuits said Mass next door. 
After Wood's husband, suspicious by now, complained to the police and the Melbourne vicar-general, Balding was sent to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory in 1979. From there he rang her so often that the bishop queried the phone bill, Wood says, while she got sicker and sicker. In 1983, he returned to Melbourne as emergency chaplain at St Vincent's and wanted to resume his relationship with Wood, who had separated from her husband. She refused. In 1987, a friend suggested another Melbourne Jesuit priest as someone she could talk to. She met the priest - who she now calls an opportunistic predator - in his room at the Jesuits' house in Parkville. After a long conversation, she says he kissed her on her mouth. Wood says she threatened another suicide attempt, so the Jesuit arranged for her to stay with his mother. It was New Year's Eve, and the mother went out to visit friends, leaving the priest to look after her.
''All his talk was of a s@xual nature. He was using f--- and worse. I'm not stupid, I know when a guy's getting revved up. He's telling me about his e...@ulations and drinking. He pushes me against the wall and tells me in explicit language what he'd like to do to me. But when someone walks past the unit he jumps away. ''He told me the only reason he didn't do what he wanted was because 'it would look as if every f---ing Jesuit was f---ing me'.'' 
Later, when Wood asked him why he behaved like that, she says he told her he had to stop her ''coming on'' to him - he had to speak that way as a form of shock treatment.
Link (here) to the full article at the Australian national newspaper The Age

Photo is of St Aloysius Church, Sevenhill, in the Clare Valley, South Australia  
Background and further details can be found at
 Melbourne women in legal row over abuse claim at CathNews
Row over abuse claim settlement at The Age

No comments: