Catholic brother from US convicted of sex abuse in Australia

AP News
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Posted: May 18, 2015 2:17 AM

SYDNEY (AP) — A Catholic brother accused of sex abuse in the U.S. has been convicted in Australia of a string of sex offenses dating back to the 1970s, when he taught at a Catholic school in Melbourne.

Bernard Hartman, who returned to Australia from the U.S. in 2013 to face the charges, was accused of abusing four children in the 1970s and 1980s, when he worked as a teacher at St Paul's College, a secondary school.

Hartman pleaded guilty in Victoria state County Court to four counts of indecent assault against two girls, and pleaded not guilty to offenses against two men who were his former students.

He was convicted of one count of indecent assault and two counts of common law assault against one of the men, and was found not guilty of another five counts of indecent assault against the same man. Last week, in a separate trial, he was found not guilty of one charge of indecent assault against the second man.

The court had issued a suppression order barring the media from reporting any details of the trials until they concluded.

Hartman moved back to the U.S. in the 1980s and continued to work as a teacher, including at a Catholic high school in Pittsburgh.

Last year, the head of a St. Louis-based religious order apologized after allegations of abuse surfaced against Hartman and seven other Marianist brothers who taught or worked at the Pittsburgh high school. Those cases came to light after the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh learned about the charges against Hartman in Australia.

When the diocese sent letters alerting graduates of what is now named Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School, they received one new allegation against Hartman — who last taught at the school in 1997 — and more than 20 against seven other brothers.

Hartman will be sentenced in Australia at a later date.