US Catholic Brother Facing Melbourne Charges

9 News
September 4, 2013

A 73-year-old American Catholic brother has returned from the US to face accusations he sexually assaulted four children at a Melbourne school more than 30 years ago.

Bernard Joseph Hartman is facing 14 charges of indecently assaulting two boys and two girls at St Paul's College in Altona.

The assaults allegedly happened between 1976 and 1982, when Hartman was working at the school, with victims aged from six to 16.

The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard Hartman voluntarily returned to Melbourne on Wednesday and was arrested at the airport on arrival.

Hartman had returned to the US in 1984 and has been working at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in Ohio.

The church had him working clerical duties so he didn't have direct access with children and teenagers.

The court heard victims in Melbourne had first come forward to police in 2003.

Last year a woman made her accusations against Hartman public during the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse.

Hartman allegedly assaulted his victims at both the school in Melbourne's west and their homes.

Deputy chief magistrate Dan Muling granted Hartman bail but he will be held in custody until he is issued with a criminal justice visa.

Detective Sergeant Doug Smith said the Catholic church had been cooperative in negotiating Hartman's return.

"There were negotiations between Victoria Police and the Catholic church, which were then related to the United States," Det Sgt Smith said outside court.

"It's been a long time coming."

Det Sgt Smith said Hartman could be issued with the visa in days.

He will then be allowed to stay in an inner-city Parkville home and must report to police three times a week.

Hartman's arrest was made by Taskforce Sano, which was set up in November to deal with the increased number of victims coming forward arising out of publicity from the parliamentary inquiry.

He will face a committal mention in the same court on November 28.


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