A former Pennsylvania pediatrician was sentenced Monday to at least 79 years in prison for sexually assaulting 31 children, most of them patients, as his now-adult victims blasted not only their abuser but the system that let him get away with it for so long. Dr. Johnnie Barto of Johnstown was sentenced on dozens of criminal counts, including aggravated indecent assault and child endangerment, the AP reports. Prosecutors said Barto, 71, spent decades abusing children in the exam room at his pediatric practice in western Pennsylvania and at local hospitals, having opted to become a pediatrician so he'd have a ready supply of victims. He typically abused prepubescent girls. One was an infant. He was handed a sentence of 79 to 158 years, meaning he will die in prison.
"I grieve for the little girl I should have been, for the childhood I should've had. ... I grieve for all the children you hurt," Erika Brosig, who was sexually abused at age 13, said at Barto's sentencing. Brosig and 18 other people gave victim impact statements Monday, both in person and through a prosecutor, describing their pain and hurt. Barto's wife, Linda Barto, was among them. "He has been lying to me about everything for all of the 52 years I have known him," she said. Authorities had a chance to stop Barto in 2000, when he appeared before the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine on administrative charges that he molested two young girls in the 1990s. But regulators threw out the case and allowed him to keep practicing medicine, saying the allegations were "incongruous to his reputation."
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