Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Medical mayhem 10

Monday morning, investigators filed nearly 70 additional charges against a former pediatrician, Johnnie "Jack" Barto, accusing him of sexually abusing 29 more victims.

Barto was first charged in January 2018 with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old patient. Then in March and again in April, he was charged on separate, similar allegations of abuse of his relatives, who were children.

Investigators accused the 70-year-old of sexually assaulting patients at Laurel Pediatric Associates and Conemaugh Hospital.

The alleged abuse dates back to the late 1980s and the victims include boys and girls of all ages, as young as a two-week-old baby girl.

Barto is accused of inappropriately touching the victim's breasts and genitals. His charges include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children.

"Dr. Barto used his power and authority as a pediatrician and abused them in those instances to feed his own sick desires," said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Investigators said Barto waited for the victims' guardians to leave the exam room or would use his body to hide the assaults. On occasion, parents would notice Barto's actions and confront him during the victims' exam, however, investigators said Barto would claim the assaults were part of a standard medical exam.

Barto's medical license was revoked on January 22, 2018.

Shapiro said this investigation is ongoing and thanked the victims for their courage coming forward.


A woman who brutally stabbed her 13-year-old son to death was sentenced to at least 37 years
in prison Friday.

In the rare role of a murder defendant who pleaded guilty while acting as her own attorney, Donna
Marie Anderson stretched the sentencing in Redwood City into a three-hour marathon.

She peppered San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum with objections in a bid to
cleanse a presentencing report of suggestions that she "fiercely and savagely" attacked her son 
in crime that "caused the entire family to be traumatized and irreparably damaged."

At one point, she made a belated and bizarre attempt to shield the child she murdered, objecting to the report's recounting of how she had her son, Stephen Burns, convert with her to Judaism. This violated their freedom of religion and privacy, she said.

"I feel strongly about protecting the constitutional rights of the victim," Anderson, a bright but
troubled physician, said as tearful relatives muttered in disbelief.

Anderson also objected to a prosecutor's report stating "the victim must have suffered immense
horror and pain" as his mother stabbed him 15 times with a knife at his grandparents' Burlingame
home in February.

"It's speculation," Anderson said, saying the prosecutor cannot "know the exact feeling of the

After patiently hearing more than 20 objections and motions, Forcum sentenced the 49-year-old
Anderson to 37 years to life in prison for murdering Stephen and attempting to murder her exhusband, Frank Burns Jr., when he ran to help their son.

"Dr. Anderson, your cruel, callous and premeditated acts robbed Stephen of the gift of life," 
Forcum said. "I have been struck by the absolute lack of what I consider genuine remorse."

Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe lauded the judge's patience with Anderson's
frequent interruptions during four months of hearings, in which the woman was deemed mentally
competent to act as her own attorney and ultimately pleaded guilty.

While homicide prosecutions can take as long as three years, Wagstaffe said Forcum's gentle
handling of the defendant gave "the gift . . . of a quick closure to the victim's family."

As she has since taking over her representation, Anderson was obsessed with control and legal 
trivia -- agreeing to allow a TV camera in the courtroom, for example, but requesting to see the cameraman's press credentials.

While Anderson quibbled over the report's depiction that killing one's own child is "the most
heinous of crimes," a woman relative in the audience said: "She's making us suffer."

Yet Anderson seemed oblivious to the question that a dozen distraught family members in court 
had hoped she would answer: Why would a mother kill her own son, a boy described as a loving, witty, trusting child?

"I regret that circumstances came into my life (and) that on Feb. 24 I was unable to make a better
decision than to kill my son and attempt to kill Mr. Burns," the mother said, in the closest she 
came to an apology.

Saying that "women are expected to break down and cry," Anderson explained that her legal 
duties required keeping her emotions in check. "I do request that the audience not misinterpret
my professional demeanor . . . (as evidence) that I'm not a human being."

In an early jailhouse interview, Anderson said she quit her job in Minnesota and journeyed to the
Bay Area where Stephen was visiting relatives in an act of mercy -- to spare him from being
kidnapped by child pornographers.

The probation report described the obstetrician as a woman who had grown increasingly 
paranoid and delusional, often quitting jobs and moving when employers or relatives urged her to seek psychological treatment.

Against Anderson's objections, grief-stricken family members finally had their say Friday.

Stephen's aunt, Jamile McConnell, said she believed that Anderson killed Stephen because he  
had begun to question her mental stability and was planning to stay in the Bay Area with relatives.

"I don't believe that Donna killed Stephen in an act of mercy," the aunt said. "I believe she killed 
him out of rage and anger."


Courtesy of a colleague


  1. A former Pennsylvania pediatrician accused of sexually abusing dozens of children pleaded guilty Thursday to multiple counts of indecent assault and other crimes.

    Dr. Johnnie Barto, 71, of Johnstown, was charged in January, March, April and July for abusing minors, including members of his family. His medical license has been suspended, according to The Associated Press.

    On Thursday, Barto admitted to sexually assaulting 31 children, most of them patients, the AP reported.

    He pleaded guilty to multiple counts of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault and endangering the welfare of children, according to the state attorney general’s office.

    Many of those crimes took place in examination rooms at Cambria County hospitals, authorities said. Victims were children of both sexes, mostly between the ages of 8 and 12, although one victim was a 2-week-old infant.

    “Dr. Johnnie Barto used his position of authority, as the pediatrician who families relied on, to feed his own sick desires and take advantage of parents and children seeking basic health care,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.

    Barto is set to be sentenced in 90 days.


  2. Barto, 72, was charged in January 2018 based on allegations he inappropriately touched a 12-year-old patient during an exam in December 2017 at Laurel Pediatrics in Richland Township.

    He was then charged in March, April and July of last year based on allegations from 31 other young family members or patients.

    Collectively, Barto’s charges included involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.

    Barto pleaded guilty in December 2018 on two cases involving allegations from family members, but entered no-contest pleas for accusations of abuse from former patients.

    His medical license has been suspended since Jan. 22, 2018.

    Barto was sentenced to state prison in March to no less than 79 years and up to 158 years for the charges to which he pleaded guilty and no-contest.

    He was initially housed at SCI-Camp Hill in Cumberland County, but was moved to SCI-Waymart, Wayne County, in September.