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Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ US https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ For decades, a sexual predator doctor groomed this community to believe he could do no wrong

For decades, a sexual predator doctor groomed this community to believe he could do no wrong



"I did not come forward because I could see how the city was reacting to charges and I did not want to put my family through that," she said. "We thought (the state) got him."

Brosig said it's no wonder, so many victims like her stayed silent

"They really circled the wagons and supported Dr. Barto, "she said. "Do you know how predators groom victims? Well, he groomed a community to believe he could not do anything wrong. "

" I suspect this is an accurate metaphor, "said James Hawdon, who as director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech studies mass shootings

In essence, Hawdon said, Barto "was a type of con man who, instead of gaining someone's confidence to steal their belongings, gained the city's confidence to exploit the city's youth. "

" This would take 'grooming,' if you will, "he said.

THOUSANDS RALLIED AROUND HIM

Barto, who is being held in the Cambria County Prison, has not made public statements since his guilty plea. [1

9659902] Everyone called Barto by his nickname, Jack, and there were no more active do-gooders in Johnstown than the popular pediatrician and his wife

The Johnstown Inclined Plane overlooks the block where Barto had an office during the time Brosig and Goetz say they were sexually assaulted by the pediatrician. Justin Merriman / for NBC News

Barto was a pillar of the community who sang in the choir at St. Benedict's Roman Catholic Church and served more than a decade on the Richland Township school board.

From 1991 to 1993, he was the school board president – his name is still on the plaque on a wall near the library at Richland School District

Barto was also involved in the district's music boosters program, coached baseball and softball teams in town, and opened his home to foreign exchange students

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

From the outside, Barto appeared to be a devoted father of four. But two years before he and his wife celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, their marriage was first tested by the accusations that he molested the three girls at his practice in Johnstown

An ad in the Richland High School Yearbook for the Johnstown Pediatric Justin Merriman / for NBC News

"Kids' doc under investigation," was the front page headline in Oct. 11, 1998 edition of the local Johnstown newspaper, The Tribune-Democrat

Prosecutors working for the State Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs charged that Barto fondled and a 4-year-old in 1994, and a 13-year-old in 1995 , and 3-year-old that January – right in front of her mother, the paper reported.

"I was stunned," Kelli Bowman, the mother of one of the victims, told the newspaper. "

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

" He's a class act, "Hershberger said, noting that his three daughters has Barto's patients and he has no plans to take them to another doctor. "

Then on Oct. 23, The Tribune-Democrat ran eight letters to the editor, all of them in support of Barto

" Case against doc can not be true, "

Forget to defend himself, Barto had in his corner grateful moms like Denise Mihalick who traveled to Harrisburg to witness

Some of the 2,000 people wound up signing a petition in support of Barto, the paper reported. A photograph of Barto with the board of directors in the Richland High School Yearbook Justin Merriman / for NBC News

'DAMN RIGHT AND FEEL BETRAYED'

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

Barto "abused both his minor patients 'trust in him, and their parents' trust, that he would behave appropriately with their children for his own

In a move that would be unimaginable in today's #MeToo era, Barto's disbelieving backers rallied behind their favorite doctor. The drive was led by grateful parents like Patty Brett, whose last name was then Katarski and who brought her 15-month-old daughter to an April 2000 rally at a local restaurant that drew 350 people.

"I have said before , and I will say again, that my life has been devoted to the welfare of children, "Barto told the crowd, the local paper reported. "I have never, and would never, act in any way to harm a child."

Barto speaks during a rally at a local restaurant that drew 350 people in 2000. "I have never, and would never, act in any The Tribune-Democrat

Brett told NBC News she believed Barto back then

"I am the mother of three and the reason I was so devoted to "He diagnosed her with diabetes when she was 8 months old," said Brett, who is now divorced and living in Pittsburgh.

"He diagnosed her with diabetes when she was 8 months old. At nine months, she was on an insulin pump, "she said. "He advocated for me and for her with specialists. We've had a wonderful rapport and there was never any inkling that he was doing anything wrong. "

How does she feel about Barto now

" He personally called me and asked me to speak at that rally, "she said . "19659010] Patty Brett brought her 15-month-old daughter to the rally in 2000. The Tribune-Democrat

Barto vowed to appeal to his loss of his license

The doctor and one of his daughters attended a Barry Manilow concert at the Bryce Jordan Center in Pennsylvania University Park, where they realized the prosecuting and administrative judge who

"So his daughter turns around and takes a picture of them," Walter Cohen, who was Barto's attorney at the time, said. "I remember his reaction to me," There is a God. "I mean, the stadium seats 16,000 people. "

Armed with photos of the pair, Cohen made a motion for the judge to recuse himself and the prosecuting attorney dismissed, thus sending the matter to the state

In a 7-2 vote, the board dismissed the claims of Barto's accusers and restored his license

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

"I'm sick about it," one of the dissenters, nurse practitioner Vivian Lowenstein, told the Associated Press last October. to work, this time at the clinic in Richland Township.

"I've got a lot of hand-drawn cards from some of the kids," Barto said at the time. He told the local paper that he was grateful for all the support and relief. "Some of them told me they said prayers for me. Kids are great. "

But the rumors about Barto persisted. And because Johnstown and the rest of Cambria County (a population of 144,000) is a small place, people who say they have been victimized by the doctor often found themselves rubbing their shoulders with others who thought the world of him

Dorich, who is a teacher , said she found herself in the uncomfortable position of working with some of Barto's relatives at the Richland Township School District

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

Dorich said she was also faced with a dilemma when she found out her friend was taking her kids to Barto's practice. "I kept pleading with her not to take them there," she said.


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