Brother in Vic court on child sex charges

An American Catholic brother won over the trust of parents so he could abuse their young children during home visits or while babysitting, a Melbourne court has been told.


During one episode, Marianist Brother Bernard Joseph Hartman used a turkey baster filled with a liquid to violate a girl aged under ten.

He also sexually abused a second young girl, after again befriending a family whose sons were students at what was then known as St Paul’s College in Melbourne, where he was a teacher.

“It is during these home visits that these offences occurred,” Prosecutor Michael Hennessy told the County Court on Wednesday.

Hartman, now 75, had pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault involving the two girls in the mid to late 1970s.

One of his victims said it had taken 16 years since she first reported the abuse to the church, and later to police, to get her day in court.

“I would vomit and feel ill for days when I knew Hartman would be my babysitter,” she said.

“At the age of 50 I’m unsure if I’ll ever regain what was taken in my childhood years.”

A psychologist told the court Hartman was sorry and horrified by the enduring negative effect he’d had on their lives.

Judge James Parrish will sentence Hartman on these and three other convictions at a date yet to be set.

Hartman was extradited from the US to Australia in 2013 to face a string of child sexual abuse charges.

In May, a jury found Hartman guilty of one count of indecent assault and two of common law assault for abusing a male student in 1981-82.

He was acquitted during another trial of abusing a second male student.

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