Marianist Brother Abused Child, Archdiocese Says

By Tom Beyerlein
Dayton Daily News
December 5, 2011

DAYTON A Marianist brother now living and working in Dayton admitted to sexually abusing a minor in Victoria, Australia, in the 1970s, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati confirmed Monday.

Brother Bernard Hartman is performing clerical work in a job that involves no children or adolescents, and is under a "safety plan" requiring that he not work with young people or vulnerable women, according to archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco.

Hartman's case came to light in an investigative report published Saturday by the Australian newspaper The Age. The paper reported that a Melbourne woman has criticized the Catholic church in Australia's response to her abuse by Hartman when she was about 8 years old. The paper reported today that additional purported victims of Hartman have contacted The Age since Saturday's article was published.

According to the University of Dayton, a Marianist university, Hartman works at a location on Washington Street in Dayton. UD spokeswoman Cilla Shindell said Hartman is not connected to the university.

Diane Guerra, spokeswoman for the Marianist Province of the United States in St. Louis, said, "He's doing clerical work he's basically stuffing envelopes. It's an all-adult environment and he's very well supervised."

Hartman did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

He left Australia in 1985 and was placed in Dayton for a year before being transferred to Pittsburgh. He has been back in Dayton since 1998, the year before the Melbourne woman reported him in Australia.

Mairead Ashcroft told The Age that Australian church officials failed to report Hartman's conduct to police after she came forward to them in 1999, even though she had a letter from Hartman apologizing to her. In the letter, Hartman said he regrets "the hurt I caused you," The Age reported. "I know I have been the cause of this hurt and I do acknowledge my part in that. I am sorry."

Guerra said "since the allegations were made in '99, he hasn't been near any children in any job."

In most U.S. cases of child sexual abuse by priests, the statute of limitations has made criminal prosecution impossible because the alleged offenses were decades old before they were reported.

Hartman is on a safety plan approved by Praesidium Inc., an independent abuse risk management company hired by the Marianists.

Andriacco said the archdiocese confirmed Hartman's admissions of sexual abuse in the interest of transparency. Reporters from The Age contacted Cincinnati archdiocese officials last week, and "that was the first time we'd heard of Brother Hartman," he said.

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