Suit: Practice, hospital covered for pedophile pediatrician

A civil suit says a Pennsylvania pediatric practice knew that one of its physicians was a threat to molest young patients but covered it up.

The suit says Laurel Pediatric Associates in Johnstown knew at least two decades ago that Dr. Johnnie Barto’s patients were in “serious danger,” but allowed him to treat — and molest — children, explaining away parents’ complaints about his sexual misconduct.

Barto was sentenced in March to at least 79 years in prison for sexually assaulting 31 children, most of them patients.

Five former patients are seeking unspecified money damages from Barto, Laurel Pediatric and Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, a hospital where he had privileges. Dozens more victims are expected to sue.

Conemaugh calls Barto’s conduct “reprehensible” but notes he wasn’t an employee. The hospital denies wrongdoing.

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