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Sex offending cleric working in Australia found living in the United States

December 6, 2011

The Age, a news source in Australia, reported this past week on the case of Brother Bernard Hartman.  Hartman is a member of the Marianist religious order.  The Marianists state that they look to the Blessed Mother as their model of discipleship. Brother Hartman admitted to church officials in Australia that he sexually assaulted a child.  The victim of his assault, Mairead Ashcroft, has been publicly speaking out about her efforts to hold Hartman accountable.

Ashcroft states that in 1999 she went to church officials to report that Hartman had sexually assaulted her when she was eight years old.  The church officials who received this report failed to contact the police.  Ashcroft stated “The church never wanted the police to know about it or suggested that the complaint be taken to the police”. “I assumed they had because it involved a child sexual assault but they never did”.

Brother Hartman admitted to the assault in a letter that he wrote to Ashcroft.  In the letter he wrote that he regretted “the hurt I caused you…I know I have been the cause of this hurt and I do acknowledge my part in that.  I am sorry”.

The Marianists not only failed to report Hartman’s crime to the police, they allowed him to remain in the United States where he was living at the time of Ashcroft’s report.  The Marianists in the United States pledged to their Australian counterparts that they would “keep a close watch on Brother Bernard”.

Since The Age first reported this story additional victims have come forward to report their own sexual violation at the hands of Bernard Hartman.  It is expected that with these new reports of criminal activity the Victoria Police in Australia may be able to extradite Hartman back to their country to face the justice that he has escaped for so many years.

The Age is also reporting that Mairead Ashcroft’s report in 1999 to church officials was not the first one they had received against Hartman.  Another woman has come forward to report that in 1993 she informed church officials that Hartman had sexually assaulted her.  Church officials assured her that the order would “monitor” Hartman.  She now states that “I’d like him returned to Australia and to be charged and jailed.  That is what the victims deserve from our justice system”.

A youth worker who was a colleague of Hartman in the 1970’s has also has come forward to report that Hartman showed students pictures of genitalia and masturbated in front of a young woman.

The case of Brother Hartman has come to light as a result of an employee at Catholic Care, a social welfare agency in Australia, who came forward to voice his frustration at how the church responded to reports of sexual assault by members of its clergy.

The Dayton Daily News reports that the Roman Catholic diocese of Cincinnati has confirmed that Brother Hartman is now living and working in Dayton Ohio.  The spokesman for the diocese stated that Hartman is on a “safety plan” which does not allow him to work with young people or vulnerable women.

The spokesperson for the Marianist Province commented that “he’s doing clerical work, he’s basically stuffing envelopes.  It’s an all adult environment and he’s very well supervised”.  The “safety plan” that Hartman is on was approved by Praesidium, a risk management company hired by the religious order.

If Hartman is indeed “stuffing envelopes” it is time for him to end his clerical career in the United States and immediately return to Australia, turn himself in to law enforcement officials, and face the criminal justice system.

The case of Brother Hartman begs the question, how many other sex offending clerics from overseas have taken up residence in the United States and are now posing a threat to our children?

Unfortunately the answer to that question is known only to church officials themselves.  It is time for the Marianists and every other religious order to publicly identify those clerics in their order who have sexually assaulted our children.  Parents and the community need this information to keep our youngsters protected and safe.

  1. Kay Goodnow permalink

    I am an American survivor of child abuse. I apologize to all of Australia that the USA continues to harbor and enable pedophile priests. Unfortunately, they do the same to US priests and nuns who are predators. Enablers are more guilty than the predators themselves. We are slowly getting the laws changed here so maybe one day soon this Hartman will be returned to face the conviction he so deserves. Maybe too the US will be able to get Law back from Rome.

  2. Peterpowers99 permalink

    Why won’t you tell the world that Brother Hartman was born an American is an American citizen, that he was shunted out of America to commit his alleged misdeeds in Australia.

    Why do you persist with this implied assumption that he is an Australian Citizen hiding out in the USA.

    At least be honest and publish the true facts about Hartman’s nationality

    • John Pilmaier permalink

      The archdiocese of melbourne released this statement indicating that the Marianists provided members of their congregation from the United States to staff St. Paul’s College. Thank you for bringing this to my attention Peter.

      Response to articles in The Age in relation to allegations against Marianist Brother
      Tuesday 6 December 2011

      The Vicar General has responded to articles in The Age of 3 and 6 December 2011 which report allegations of sexual abuse against the Marianist Brother, Brother Bernard Hartman SM.

      The Age in two reports on 3 & 6 December 2011 refers to allegations of sexual abuse against the Marianist Brother, Brother Bernard Hartman SM, while he was a member of the staff at St Paul’s College, Altona.

      St Paul’s College, Altona, was a boys’ secondary College conducted by the Marianist Brothers from 1965 until 1985 with the Brothers leaving the College at the end of 1986.

      The Vicar General, Bishop Les Tomlinson, said:

      “The Marianists provided members of their congregation from the USA to lead and staff St Paul’s College, Altona.

      “The Archdiocese and the Catholic Education Office have checked their records and inquiries have been made of the Parish Priest from Altona during the 1990s and there is no record of any complaint of abuse having been received in relation to Brother Hartman.

      “The allegations of Ms Mairead Ashcroft reported in The Age of 3 December 2011 were investigated by Towards Healing.

      “The allegations of the anonymous complainant referred to in The Age of 6 December 2011 states that the woman claims she was told by unidentified Church officials that Brother Hartman would be ‘monitored’ by the Church in the US. While no allegation in relation to Brother Hartman has been officially made to the Archdiocese, there is also no record of the Archdiocese committing to Brother Hartman being monitored in the US.

      “While Youth Worker, Les Twentyman, who taught at St Paul’s, Altona, with Brother Hartman in the 1970s, is quoted as stating ‘that several students complained to him of Brother Hartman’s inappropriate behaviour’, Mr Twentyman does not state that he reported his concerns to the Police.

      “All victims of abuse are encouraged to report allegations of criminal conduct to Victoria Police.”

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