Intended for healthcare professionals


Paediatrician who “groomed a community” to conceal child abuse is sentenced to 79 years

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 22 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1355
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal, Canada

A Pennsylvania paediatrician whose medical licence was revoked 19 years ago—then reinstated after a local campaign—will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted in the abuse of 31 children.

Johnnie Barto, 71, pleaded guilty to charges of indecent assault, corruption of minors, and endangering child welfare in the abuse of two relatives. He pleaded no contest to similar charges relating to 29 patients, accepting his punishment without admitting guilt. His youngest victim was two weeks old.

He was sentenced to 79 to 158 years of imprisonment. “All I can say is that the justice system is not perfect, but it worked the second time,” Judge Patrick Kiniry said.

Barto gave no apology or statement, but sat impassively as dozens of victims testified before sentencing. …

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