19 report abuse at Pittsburgh Catholic school

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – Nineteen former students leveled sex abuse allegations against eight Marianist brothers who once worked at a high school in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh as long ago as 1940.


Publicity about previous allegations against five brothers who taught or worked in the school’s cafeteria decades ago prompted the number of accusers to grow, said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, diocesan spokesman.


The revelations began when the diocese learned in March that Brother Bernard Hartman, 74, faces trial later this year in Australia on charges he molested four students at a Catholic school there in the 1970s and 80s.


The diocese sent a letter to North Catholic High School alumni who attended the school in 1961, 1979 and from 1986 to 1997 – the years Hartman taught at the school.


That letter prompted more alumni to come forward, one with a “credible” allegation against Hartman that was turned over to Allegheny County prosecutors, and a handful of others with allegations against four other Marianist brothers, three of whom are known to be dead. Those brothers worked at the school at various times between 1951 and 1967. The fourth brother would be 88 if he’s still alive, but church officials can’t be sure if he is because he left the St. Louis-based Marianists decades ago.


Now, publicity about that batch of allegations has prompted other alumni to accuse three more Marianist brothers. In all, 19 former students have made 23 abuse allegations against all eight brothers. Some former students reported abuse by more than one brother, Lengwin said. One accuser is female.


The three brothers named in the new allegations have all since died, too, Lengwin said. They are Jerome Binder, who worked at the school from 1961-66, 1975-76, and 1979-89; James Kline, from 1940-47; and Julius May, from 1960-69.


Marianist officials did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday. But the Rev. Martin Solma, who heads the order, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which first reported the new allegations, he feels “shame.”


“These things are done behind closed doors and secretly. We’re also a victim,” Solma said. “We feel violated by what these individuals have done, so everybody is a victim.”


Lengwin said the Pittsburgh diocese alerted alumni as soon as they learned of the various allegations. He couldn’t say why the Marianists failed to alert the diocese if the religious order knew past abuses.


The Marianists have acknowledged removing Hartman from the Pittsburgh school without publicly explaining why. The religious order said Hartman has since been given treatment and barred from teaching under a “safety plan” designed to keep him away from children. For most of that time he did clerical work while living in Dayton, Ohio.


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