EBENSBURG – Johnnie "Jack" Barto will spend the rest of his life in a state prison.
At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing on Monday, Cambria County Judge Patrick Kiniry ordered the former pediatrician, 71, to spend no less than 79 years in prison for charges against 31 victims – young patients or their family members – he has sexually abused for decades.
Eighteen victims testified or had impact statements read in court, each bearing the same theme of broken confidence at a young age that resulted in anxiety until adulthood.
"I've had nightmares since that happened," wrote one victim. "I hope you sit and think about it for the rest of your miserable life."
The mother of another victim wrote that "what has happened to them does not define who they are, but defines who you are".
Dressed in a suit, Barto, formerly of Delta Drive, Johnstown, was brought into a back entrance by sheriff's deputies and sat next to his lawyer, David Weaver, where he expressed little emotion during the procedure.
Barto wore a wedding band, although his wife, Linda, did not testify against her husband for nearly 50 years.
Linda Barto said that her husband admitted his actions after asking, "Why are people still accusing you?"
"There is not a day when I do not feel the sadness in the hearts of its victims," she said, claiming that her husband's "sinister life" was a secret that has now affected his health, his financial situation and his relations with other members of the family.
Several of their family members testified on Monday in court and said Johnnie Barto was counting on his victims being too frightened to speak.
"I found myself wanting to apologize to my family for keeping it that long," said a close friend of Barto. "I chose to hide it because I thought I was the only one, I want you to know I'm not scared anymore."
Tribune-Democrat does not identify victims of sexual assault or sexual abuse unless they choose to make their stories public.
Another family member provided an impact statement read by Deputy Attorney General of the State, Simquita Bridges, stating "that there was no such thing as". love, that lies "as the basis of the relationship with Barto.
"A life sentence"
Barto pleaded guilty on December 20 in two cases involving allegations of family members, but argued unequivocally for being accused of mistreatment by former patients.
Mr. Bridges told Kiniry "Barto has assaulted children for at least 45 years" and asked for at least 31 years, or one year for each of his 31 victims.
"He imposed on the victims a life sentence, a sentence they did not ask for," said Bridges.
Kiniry has sentenced Barto to an aggravated sentence, taking into account an opinion from the state's sex offender assessment committee designating the former pediatrician as a sexually violent predator.
Although the report prepared by the council is not public information, the evaluator testified that during his interview with Barto on March 5, he acknowledged a sexually deviant interest that he believed had begun at the age of 5 to 10 years.
According to the evaluator, Barto would have told him that girls in his neighborhood might have fondled him, which he found exciting and led him to do the same with others.
Kiniry referred to the report prior to the sentencing, particularly a paragraph in which the evaluator wrote that the first disclosure of sexual abuse by Barto had occurred in 1997, but did not occur. had not resulted in criminal charges.
It appears that Barto reached a financial settlement with the family of the first victim, read the report in the report, before his medical permit was returned in 2000.
The report states that Barto told the evaluator that the reinstatement of his medical license "made him feel invincible".
Although he does not speak for the majority of the audience, Barto told Kiniry that he did not remember making this statement during his interview with the evaluation committee of the community. sex offenders of the state.
& # 39; You have not stopped & # 39;
The Tribune-Democrat reported for the first time in 1998 that Barto had been accused of improperly touching three girls – aged 3, 4 and 13 – during his visits to the Johnstown Pediatrics offices during from a period of four years.
The 2000 Pennsylvania Board of Medicine's order reinstating Barto's license provided the history of these charges, but emphasized Barto's "positive reputation in the community as a physician and community member."
"As innocent as it may be, the conduct of (Barto) lacked a little discernment and led quite well to the charges against him," says the warrant.
Reports from the 1990's to the state's Office of Professional and Occupational Affairs led to hearings in which Barto and witnesses were questioned about the allegations.
In the middle of the proceedings, Barto and his daughter saw the attorney and the judge presiding over the case together at a concert, which allowed Barto 's lawyer to present a motion inviting them both to recuse themselves.
Barto's fate was then pushed back to the state's medical office, which made the decision to reinstate his license.
Before dismissing Monday's hearing, Kiniry had listed his consideration of Barto as a danger to society in his reasoning for the aggravated sentence.
"You've already escaped from that before and you did not stop," Kiniry said. "The judicial system is not perfect, but it worked the second time."
"Lies, lies and assault"
At a press conference held after Barto's conviction, Pennsylvania's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, declined to comment on information available to the state's medical board at the time, which allowed Barto to continue practicing, which resulted in dozens of additional victims.
As a father, he urged parents, worried now, to put their children to routine exams, to trust their own instincts.
"Trust your instinct," he says.
Shapiro said that people can call local law enforcement or his office.
"If you see something, say something," he says. "We will listen."
Shapiro said that the Barto survey was still ongoing. Anyone with information can call 412-565-7680.
Shapiro's office initially charged Barto in January 2018 on allegations that he improperly touched a 12-year-old patient in December 2017 at Laurel Pediatrics in Richland Township.
In March, he was again charged for a 29 year old woman who was 14 when Barto inappropriately touched her while she was sleeping on a sofa at his home in 2002.
Barto was again charged in April on allegations that he inappropriately touched a young parent on numerous occasions.
In July, Shapiro announced 69 additional charges against Barto. These charges included 29 alleged victims of violence dating back to the early 1990s, during incidents in the Richo Township Richo Township Office, Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center and Laurel Pediatrics County Site. from Somerset. .
Together, the five cases include charges of involuntary deviation, abusive sexual relations, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, endangering the well-being of children and corruption of minors.
"Barto used his authority as a pediatrician – the family doctor on whom everyone counted to treat their children – as a cloak to feed his own sick desires," Shapiro said.
"He's been touted as a pillar of his community – a family pediatrician, an elected board member, a church-goer, and my office has unraveled the network of lies, deceptions, and mischief. # 39; s assaults on Barto – and today, he has been held responsible for his crimes. "
Barto's medical license was suspended on January 22, 2018 and his surety was revoked in May.
Since he is classified as a sexually violent predator under the Megan Law, Barto will also be required to register with the Pennsylvania State Police for the rest of his life, Shapiro said.