A 70-year-old pediatrician in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, has been charged with 69 counts of “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children” after a investigation revealed he sexually abused at least 29 of his young patients – some of them as young as 2-weeks-old.
Dr. Johnnie Wilson Barto, who used to practice at Laurel Pediatric Associates of Cambria County among other local hospitals, had allegedly been molesting children since the 1980s. The latest incident took place earlier this year in January.
According to the Richland Township Police Department and the criminal complaints filed against the pedophile doctor, Barto used to inappropriately touch kids – both boys and girls – and conducted genital exams even when the patients only had symptoms of sore throats, kidney stones and ear infections.
He reportedly used to ask parents to leave the room or shield what he was doing by obscuring their view by their body. In instances when parents saw what he was doing and demanded an explanation, he would tell them it was an over-all check up that required him to check their children’s genital without wearing gloves.
He was arrested in January after parents of a 12-year-old female patient accused him of forcing the girl to sit on his lap during an office visit at Laurel Pediatrics.
In a similar incident that took place in Feb. 2017, a mother told authorities the doctor examined her 14-year-old daughter “internally without ever explaining why a vaginal exam was justified for the girl's flu-like symptoms and an earache,” reported BuzzFeed News.
Barto was already incarcerated after being charged with indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children, earlier this year. In March, he was charged again with two counts of indecent assault and one count each of corruption of minors, according to The Tribune Democrat.
Most of his victims were between the ages of 8 and 12.
“Barto used his position of authority as a pediatrician — the family doctor everyone relied on to treat and heal their children — and abused it to feed his own, sick sexual desires,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro at a press conference. “Our agents and Richland police continued interviewing young victims — some assaulted by Barto as recently as January — and older victims as well, who came forward and told of being assaulted by Barto years ago in his office, when they came as young children, seeking his care.”
The doctor’s medical license has been revoked and he could spend the rest of his life in prison – if convicted of all charges.
Meanwhile, Laurel Pediatrics, where Barto used to practice and allegedly assaulted minors, issued a letter to parents in an attempt to address their concerns.
“Please know that, while this is a very difficult time for all of us, our first priority remains ensuring that your family continues to receive the very best care,” it read. “We ask that you continue to reassure your children that our doctors and staff are here to take care of them whenever they need us.”
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