A Pennsylvania pediatrician who sexually assaulted at least 31 children—mainly at hospitals and his practice—was condemned to prison on Monday.
WRAL reported Dr. Johnnie Barto, 71, will spend at least 79 years behind bars after being convicted of dozens of counts, including aggravated indecent assault and child endangerment. Barto was deemed a sexually violent predator before Monday’s sentencing.
In addition to 19 child victims who provided impact statements, Barto’s wife spoke out against the pediatrician before sentencing.
“[He] spent his whole sinister life lying and sneaking around so he could carry on his abuse uninterrupted,” Linda Barto said of her disgraced doctor husband of 50 years.
According to The Tribune-Democrat, Linda—who notably wasn’t wearing her wedding ring—said Johnnie confessed his crimes to her after she asked, “Why do people keep accusing you?”
“There is not a day when I don’t feel heaviness in my heart for his victims.”
Nearly twenty years earlier, the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine filed administrative charges against Johnnie following allegations that he molested three girls—ages 3, 4, and 13. State regulators dismissed the case and allowed him to keep practicing medicine. Prosecutors claimed he ultimately molested at least 12 more child patients before his January 2018 arrest, according to WRAL.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Simquita Bridges told the court that the pediatrician violated children for at least 45 years. Cambria County Judge Patrick Kiniry said he reached a financial settlement with the first girl’s family before he faced the medical board in 2000.
Reading from the sexual offender assessment board, Kiniry said the reinstatement of Johnnie’s medical license “made him feel invincible,” according to The Tribune-Democrat.
The pediatrician’s arrest came after allegations that he molested a 12-year-old patient in December 2017 at a Richland Township doctor’s office. He faced additional charges in March, when an adult woman claimed she was 14 when he touched her as she slept on a couch at his home. He was charged again in April, amid accusations that he inappropriately touched a young relative on numerous instances.
In July, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced 69 additional charges stemming from reports from 29 victims which dated back to the 1990s.
“Barto used his authority as a pediatrician–the family doctor everyone relied on to treat their children–as a cloak to feed his own sick desires,” Shapiro said, according to the newspaper.
“He held himself out as a pillar in his community–a family pediatrician, an elected member of the school board, a regular attendee at church. My office unraveled Barto’s web of lies, deceits, and assault of children–and today he’s been held accountable for his crimes.”
[Featured image: Johnnie Barto/Cambria County Prison]