Charges have been filed against a Pennsylvania pediatrician who in January was arrested for molesting more than two dozen children, in many cases while their parents were in the exam room.
Johnnie Wilson Barto was charged on Monday with sexually abusing 29 children over the course of more than 20 years, Buzzfeed reports. The 69 counts include charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, multiple counts of aggravated indecent assault, and multiple counts of indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children.
The details outlined in the criminal complaint are truly harrowing, so read at your own discretion. In one case, two parents brought their several-weeks old baby, known as “Victim #2,” to Barto for a check-up. Both the mother and father were present when Barto removed the baby’s diaper and inserted his finger into her vagina, causing her to cry. When the father protested, Barto allegedly said “This is routine. I need to do this to make sure everything is OK.” The mother alleged that Barto did the same thing on subsequent visits, though no other doctors in the office found it necessary to perform any similar procedures when examining the baby.
If you’re wondering how Barto could get away with these alleged crimes while the parents were mere inches away, prosecutors alleged that he employed several tactics, including waiting for parents to leave, using his body as a shield to prevent them from seeing what he was doing, or claiming that what he was doing was part of a standard medical exam.
During a press conference, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told reporters that,
“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.”
Barto’s alleged victims were both boys and girls, ranging from near-infancy to teenagers. While some of the alleged assaults took place in local hospitals around Cambria County, the majority happened at a facility called Laurel Pediatric Associates. In a letter to parents addressing the allegations, Laurel wrote:
“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. 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.”