THE majority of true crime documentaries tend to revolve around twisted lunatics who have taken lives. If not, it’s sociopathic scammers who have destroyed lives.
Etflix Our father focuses on a twisted lunatic who, in his own warped mind, was a kind of blessed life-giver but also a destroyer: Indiana fertility doctor Donald Cline.
Beginning in the 1980s, Cline impregnated countless women with what they believed to be sperm from an anonymous donor or their husband/partner. In fact, Cline used his own, freshly made, while the would-be mothers were in another room, naked from the waist down with their legs in stirrups.
It is still unknown how many women have been cheated on and sexually abused without their knowledge or consent. The number of victims of Cline – the women and the children they gave birth to – grows every year. New ones often come to light just after Christmas, when many people who have been gifted DNA kits come online to look at the results and find that they have an unusually large number of half brothers or sisters.
When production of the documentary was completed, there were 94 half-siblings fathered by Cline, many living within 25 miles of each other and some no more than a few minutes from the former doctor’s home.
Yes, Cline is still alive and, spoiler alert, a free man who never spent a day in jail for what he did. Once Our father received much attention, there will be many more women and men who will learn the terrifying truth: that their biological father is not the man who raised them, but the fertility specialist who treated their mothers—but in a sense, not specialist is ever should.
Produced by horror film factory Blumhouse Productions, Lucie Jourdan’s film is far from perfect.
Garish dramatized reconstructions like the one showing Cline (actor Keith Boyle) masturbating with his back to the camera in his office in front of a wall plastered with a mixture of scriptures and various hollow platitudes about childbirth only add an unnecessary touch of sensationalism added.
There’s also a bit too much from Fox59 journalist Angela Ganote. It’s true that Ganote doggedly pursued the story when no other media outlet was interested, but what she was doing — basically her work — hardly deserves the same attention and screen time as what Cline did to its victims.
The documentary is at its best when it simply lets the victims tell their stories. The most prominent of these is Jacoba Ballard, also known as “Sibling #1”.
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If a true story can ever have a protagonist, it is her.
Ballard’s discovery, after taking a DNA test at home, that she had no fewer than seven biological half-siblings was the first blow to the wall of protective lies Cline had built around herself.
Ballard took it upon himself to contact each new half-sibling. It required no small guts. “I know I’m going to call her and I know I’m going to ruin her life,” she says.
In return, they contacted other siblings and the true enormity of what Cline had done began to spread like an oil slick.
Sometimes the connections were made almost by accident. Julie Harmon (“Siblings #14”) saw Jacoba on TV and was unnerved by how alike they looked (many of Cline’s “kids” have blonde hair and blue eyes).
“It just completely washes away your identity,” she says. “You don’t know who you are anymore.”
Liz White, mother of Matt (“Siblings #17”) says, “I was raped 15 times and I didn’t know it.”
However, the law did not consider what Cline had done to be rape or even assault. After two years during which Cline avoided, lied to, begged, and threatened Jacoba and the others in various ways (his voice on recordings is alternately menacing and fawning), he was charged with two counts of wrongdoing — a felony 6 — by lying to his patients and the Attorney General.
He received two suspended sentences and a $500 fine.
What Our father not investigating enough why Cline — a religious zealot and church elder who always packs a gun and is associated with a white supremacist Christian cult — did what he did.
A more distant voice might have helped here.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-reviews/netflixs-our-father-review-the-monstrous-religious-zealot-fertility-doctor-who-destroyed-lives-41640368.html Netflix’s Lord’s Prayer review: The monstrous, religiously zealous fertility doctor who destroyed lives