Home / US / For decades, a sexual predator doctor brushed this community to believe he could not go wrong

For decades, a sexual predator doctor brushed this community to believe he could not go wrong

"I did not report because I could see how the city responded to the charges, and I did not want my family to think it through," she said. "We thought the state had caught him."

Brosig said it was no wonder that as many victims as she remained silent.

"They really were circling the wagons and supporting Dr. Barto," she said. "You know how predators sacrifice victims? Well, he has nurtured a church to believe that he can not go wrong. "

" I suspect this is an exact metaphor, "said James Hawdon, a director of the Virginia Tech Center for Peace Research and Violence Prevention, who studies mass shootings and their impact on the communities where they took place.

In essence, Hawdon said Barto was "a kind of cheater who, instead of gaining someone's trust to steal his belongings, has gained the city's trust to exploit the city's youth. "

" This would require "grooming," if you will, "he said.


Barto, imprisoned in Cambria Prison, has made no public statements since his blame His lawyer, David Weaver, did not do that when NBC News spoke to him.

Everyone called Barto nicknamed Jack, and in Johnstown there were no more active do-gooders than the beloved pediatrician and his wife.

The Johnstown Inclined Plane surveys the block in which Barto had an office when Brosig and Goetz said they had been sexually assaulted by a pediatrician. Justin Merriman / for NBC News

Barto was a pillar of the community involved in the band sang choir in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Benedict and served for more than a decade in the school council of Richland Township.

From 1991 to 1993 he was chairman of the school board – his name is still standing on a wall near the library in the Richland School District.

Barto was also involved in the district's Music Boosters program, training baseball and softball teams in the city, and opening his home to foreign students.

"Linda wrote the yearbook and many of her relatives worked in the district," Brosig said. "Her family, immediate and expanded, was and is still very much respected in the community."

From the outside, Barto seemed to be a devoted father of four children. But two years before he and his wife celebrated their 30th anniversary, their marriage was first checked for allegations of insulting the three girls in his practice in Johnstown.

An advertisement in the 1999 Richland High School yearbook for the Johnstown Pediatric Association, in which Barto practiced for two decades. Justin Merriman / for NBC News

"Children's Document Document" was the headline story of the Johnstown newspaper The Tribune Democrat, released October 11, 1998.

The prosecutor, who works for the State Office for Professional and Public Affairs, alleged that Barto caressed a four-year-old, a 13-year-old in 1995 and a three-year-old in 1994. The newspaper reported on her mother ,

"I was stunned," said Kelli Bowman, mother of a victim, to the newspaper. "I did not want to believe it was true."

But in the same article, another doctor named David Hershberger rose to Barto's defense.

"He's a class act," Hershberger said, noting that his three daughters are Barto's patients and he's not planning to take her to another doctor. "I am very satisfied with him."

On October 23, the Tribune Democrat ran eight letters to the editor, all in support of Barto.

"Case against Doc can not be true" was one of the headlines.

About 2,000 people signed a petition in support of Barto, the newspaper reported.

As a defender, Barto forced grateful mothers in his corner, such as Denise Mihalick, who testified in his name.

"As a mother, I always ask for Jack," she said in the newspaper.

A photo of Barto with the board of directors in the Richland High School yearbook of 1999. Justin Merriman / for NBC News


But in March 2000, the state agency Barto deprived of his medical license, which he held since 1974.

Barto "abused his two smaller patients & # 39; trust in him and the parents' trust that he would behave appropriately with his children for his own," wrote state medical examiner Suzanne Rauer.

In a move unimaginable in today's # MeToo era, Barto's unbelieving financiers gathered behind their favorite doctor. The trip was led by grateful parents like Patty Brett, who was then called Katarski, and who brought their 15-month-old daughter to a rally in a local restaurant in April 2000, where 350 people lived.

"I've said it before and I'll say again that my life was dedicated to the well-being of children," Barto told the crowd, the local newspaper reported. "I have never and will not do anything in any way to hurt a child."

Barto speaks during a rally in a local restaurant where 350 people were present in 2000. "I have never acted in any way. It can hurt a child," the local newspaper reported. The Tribune Democrat

Brett told NBC News that she believed Barto at the time.

He is, he saved my daughter's life, "said Brett, who is now divorced and lives in Pittsburgh.

" He diagnosed diabetes with her when she was eight months old. At nine months she had an insulin pump, "she said. "He has worked with specialists for me and for her. We had a wonderful relationship, and there was never a clue that he had done anything wrong.

How is she doing now with Barto?

"He called me personally and asked me to speak at this rally," she said. "You're damned right, I feel betrayed."

Patty Brett brought her 15-month-old daughter to the rally in 2000. The Tribune Democrat

had vowed to protest the loss of his license to the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine and caught a happy break.

The Doctor and one of his daughters attended a Barry Manilow concert at the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park, Pennsylvania, when they recognized the prosecutor and the administrative judge. The chairman of his case sat directly behind them.

"His daughter turns around and closes Photo of them, "said Walter Cohen, who was Barto's lawyer at the time." I remember his reaction to me was, "There is a God." I mean, the stadium has room for 16,000 people. What are the chances that the judge and the prosecutor would sit directly behind them? "

Armed with photos of the couple, Cohen filed a motion to reject the judge himself and the prosecutor and to send the matter to the state Board of Medicine, which consists primarily of doctors who are responsible for admittance and discipline.

In a 7: 2 vote, the board dismissed the claims of Barto's prosecutors and restored his license.

Laurel Pediatric Associates where Barto practiced since 2000. Justin Merriman / for NBC News

"I'm sick of it," said one of the dissenters, nurse-practitioner Vivian Lowenstein, the Associated Press last October.

Barto went back to work, this time at the clinic in Richland Township. He told the local newspaper that he was grateful for the support and relieved that his suffering process was over.

"I have received many hand-drawn cards from some children," Barto said at the time. "Some told me that they had prayed for me. Kids are great. "

But the rumors about Barto continued. And because Johnstown and the rest of the Cambria district (population 144,000) are a small place, the people who said they had been sacrificed by the doctor were often found in others who thought their world was theirs.

Dorich, who is a teacher, said she was in an uncomfortable position to work with some relatives of Barto in the Richland Township School District.

"It was terrible, every time I saw her, everything came back to me," Dorich said of a relative in particular.

Dorich said that she also faced a dilemma when she found out that her friend brought her children to Barto's practice. "I always asked her not to take her there," she said.

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