Authorities Allege Decades Of Sexual Abuse By Johnstown Pediatrician
Already arrested in January 2018 on charges that he molested a 12-year-old girl in his office, pediatrician Dr. Johnnie Wilson “Jack” Barto, 70, has been accused of sexual abuse by 29 other patients. On Monday, July 30, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a slew of new charges against the disgraced doctor. In total, Barto faces nearly 70 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, and endangering the welfare of children.
This alleged pattern of serial sexual abuse stretches back until at least the late 1980s, and investigators believe that there are more victims who have not come forward yet. Most of the alleged assaults took place in an examination room at Laurel Pediatric Associates in Cambria County. Several other incidents occurred at area hospitals.
Barto had his bail revoked in May and is currently being held at the Cambria County Jail. If convicted of these new charges, he could face life in prison.
The Attorney General’s Office has set up a hotline for other victims of sexual abuse and their families – (412)-565-7680.
Sexual Abuse By Doctors A Nationwide Problem
Tragically, incidents of sexual abuse by doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals have been a major issue throughout the United States. Sexual predators often seek positions of power that can be exploited to commit their heinous crimes. Furthermore, the medical industry makes this worse by seeking to give medical professionals second chances. Many doctors who have been accused of sexual assault have been permitted to continue practicing, according to an investigative report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Do Healthcare Facilities & Employers Have A Duty To Prevent Sexual Abuse?
Attorney contributor Brian Kent has some general thoughts on cases of sexual abuse by healthcare professionals:
Doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, and other health care facilities have a legal obligation to make sure their patients are safe and that they are given the quality of care that they deserve. Unfortunately, sometimes these facilities fail to meet this obligation in a number of ways. Incident reports may be downplayed until too many victims come forward to ignore and doctors with a history of sexual abuse may be hired because of inadequate pre-hire screening processes.
When this happens, the case should be treated in a manner similar to how a patient would respond to medical malpractice. If sexual abuse only happens because of the negligence of entities who could have prevented the abuse, it’s important to hold those entities liable for the suffering they’ve allowed to happen. Victims of sexual abuse should consider speaking with an experienced sexual abuse victims lawyer in order to fully understand their legal options. While the police and criminal justice system will do all that they can to put sexual predators behind bars, filing a civil lawsuit is often the best way for survivors to fully exercise their legal rights and secure justice.