A former Pennsylvania pediatrician was hit with 79 years in prison on Monday for the sexual assault of 31 children he was supposed to be treating.
Dr. Johnnie Barto was convicted on dozens of counts of sex assault charges including aggravated indecent assault and child endangerment.
Prosecutors said he spent nearly 30 years molesting children at his western Pennsylvania practice with victims ranging in age from 8 to 12, both boys and girls. Worse, on victim was an infant.
According to the L.A. Times nearly 20 people spoke out at the sentencing:
Nineteen people gave victim impact statements, both in person and through a prosecutor, describing how Barto caused them to feel hopelessness and despair, caused depression and anxiety and instilled a fear of doctors.
Barto’s wife, Linda Barto, was among them.
“He has been lying to me about everything for all of the 52 years I have known him,” the doctor’s wife said. “He spent his whole sinister life lying and sneaking around, so he could carry on his abuse uninterrupted.” She said her heart was heavy for the victims.
The attorney general’s office asked for 69 years, but the judge went even farther.
The now convicted doctor agreed to plead guilty to most of the charges as a way for “the healing could begin for his family, his victims and for himself.”
The charges against the 71-year-old doctor stretch back to the 1990s. But the charges were known previously but the state medical board failed to act decisively.
As the Times added:
The medical board’s 7-2 decision to let him off the hook in 2000 sparked outrage from victims and at least one former board member. Vivian Lowenstein, who had voted to strip Barto of his license, told the Associated Press last year that she was “sick about it” and that the case was as an example of how Pennsylvania’s physician-regulators typically looked out for their own.
This failure has remained unaddressed.
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