Former North Catholic teacher accused of sexual abuse
A member of a Catholic religious order who is awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing two boys and two girls about 30 years ago in Australia now faces an allegation of abuse from his days at the former North Catholic High School, a spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh said on Wednesday.
Marianist (Society of Mary) Brother Bernard Joseph Hartman is accused of sexually assaulting them while at St. Paul's College in Melbourne, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Hartman is a former biology teacher at North Catholic in Troy Hill, now known as Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School.
As a result of media coverage of the Australian case, one person has contacted local church officials, the Rev. Ronald Lengwin said.
“We believe (the allegation) is credible and we have turned it over to the appropriate legal authorities,” said Lengwin, declining to say anything more specific about the complaint.
The allegation was made as the diocese was preparing to send out letters about the Australian allegations to North Catholic alumni.
“The main purpose in writing to you is to express concern for any possible victims of sexual misconduct,” says the letter dated Friday. “If Brother Hartman sexually abused anyone while he was in Pittsburgh, we want to know about it.”
Diocesan and Cardinal Wuerl school officials only learned about the court case through a media inquiry on March 20, said Lengwin.
He said the letter is now standard procedure when the diocese learns of allegations about someone with former ties to local churches or schools.
The Marianist Order assigned Hartman to North Catholic on three occasions, the letter states: briefly in 1961 as a science teacher; in 1970 while he was on a sabbatical from an assignment elsewhere; and from 1986-97, when he taught science courses.
“While the diocese notifies the civil authorities of all criminal allegations it receives, you should also notify civil authorities,” the letter states.
“If you or anyone you know has been harmed by Brother Hartman — or by anyone representing the Church — please call the Diocesan Victim Assistance Hotline at 1-888-808-1235 or the Pennsylvania state abuse hotline at 1-800-932-0313,” the letter states.
Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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