Former Johnstown pediatrician waives hearing on dozens of sexual abuse charges
RICHLAND TOWNSHIP — A pediatrician who practiced in Somerset and Cambria counties waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday in two cases involving the alleged sexual abuse of 29 children ranging in age from 2 weeks to 12 years old.
Dr. Johnnie “Jack” Barto has been in the Cambria County Prison in lieu of bail since April. He was able to bond out in the first two cases, when bond was set at $10,000 and $100,000, respectively. The bond amounts have gotten progressively bigger since then, eventually reaching $1 million and $1.5 million.
The 70-year-old had little to say about having to face more sexual abuse charges in the Cambria County Court of Common Pleas. Sporting a new gray beard, a red T-shirt and handcuffs, Barto spoke to a Daily American reporter for the first time Friday since being arrested and charged.
“I have no comment,” he said while standing at the open door of a prison transport vehicle. He was accompanied by a single correctional officer. He gave a slight smile and sat in the back of the vehicle.
On July 30 the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office filed 69 felony and misdemeanor counts in two cases accusing Barto of sexual abuse of children in his professional and familial care, according to court documents.
In the latest cases, Barto, of Delta Drive, Johnstown, is accused of abusing boys and girls as early as the 1980s and as recently as January.
According to court documents, the abuse took place at Barto’s former employer, Laurel Pediatric Associates, which has offices in Johnstown and Somerset, at Conemaugh hospital in Johnstown and at Lee Hospital in Johnstown. Barto’s medical license has been suspended.
Other incidents occurred in homes during family functions, according to court documents.
When the charges were first filed against Barto, many of his patients’ families, his neighbors and his wife were there to support him at a preliminary hearing. At each successive hearing, the number of supporters has dwindled.
The case is being pursued by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.
“If convicted — when convicted — of these charges Barto will spend the rest of his life behind bars where he belongs,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a press conference July 30 at the Richland Township Police Department. “Johnnie Barto is a predator and a public menace, and he deserves to stay behind bars.”
In addition to the 69 charges waived to court Friday, Barto faces 11 additional child sexual abuse offenses in three separate cases filed in January, March and April.
In the late 1990s Barto was accused of molesting girls during an office visit but was later cleared of those charges.
Johnstown attorney David Weaver, who represents Barto, indicated Friday after his client was escorted back to jail that he did not want to comment.
Barto is scheduled to be arraigned at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 25 in the Cambria County Court of Common Pleas.