THE woman involved in a relationship with former Anglican Bishop of Grafton Donald Shearman has publicly come forward for the first time. Beth Heinrich was just 15 years old when the relationship started. The now 65-year-old nurse told ABC TV's Australian Story that the priest had promised her a future with him. Last year Ms Heinrich refused to be named publicly in the investigation by a church tribunal in Brisbane that resulted in Shearman losing his holy orders. But last night she shared the contents of hundreds of letters sent to her during their 40-year relationship. Former Dean of Grafton Richard Hurford, who was Mr Shearman's dean while he was in Bathurst, told Australian Story that Ms Heinrich gave him access to 'documents and corroborative material' which he had not previously seen. "She walked me through her journey and it was gut-wrenching," Bishop Hurford told Australian Story. "The letters are a potent symbol of betrayal, she has it appears, a few hundred of them. "It beggars my belief that a person in his position as a leader in the Christian church could go down such a path with someone, who is also investing herself in not just believing him but the whole God spin on the stuff he was writing." Mr Shearman's relationship with Ms Heinrich started when she was a boarder at an Anglican hostel in Forbes in the 1950s.
n with Donald Shearman who later became the Anglican Bishop of Grafton. Her experience was related last night on ABC TV's Australian Story.