Catholic Brother accused of child sex abuse was a sadist: court hears

ABC News, Australia/March 19, 2014

By Sarah Farnsworth

American Marianist Brother Bernard Hartman will stand trial over allegations he abused four children while a teacher at St Paul's College in Melbourne more than 30 years ago.

Hartman is facing 18 charges, including indecent assault, act of gross indecency and assault dating back to the 1970s and 1980s

It is alleged Brother Hartman sexually assaulted two girls in their homes after he befriended their families.

He is also alleged to have molested two students at the all boys college.

One of his former students told a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, the biology teacher was a "Jekyll and Hyde type of person."

The court heard he would regularly molest him and then beat him up.

"He was a bit of a sadist," the man told the court.

"Mostly every time he abused me sexually, he would finish up physically belting me.

"I felt very alone and angry."

In a statement tendered in court, one of the women said Hartman molested her between the ages of 5 to 11 in her bedroom after he had been invited around to dinner.

She said she would try to avoid going to bed, or pretend to be asleep to deter him, but could not tell her adoptive parents, who were devout Catholics and in awe of Hartman.

"I felt vulnerable to the world. I was not coping. I felt unprotected," she said.

The court heard the abuse ended when she was 11, but years later she received a love letter from him.

The woman said when told the court when she complained to the Catholic Organisations "Towards Healing" in her early 20s, she was advised not to tell anyone what happened "as it may stir up problems in other people's lives."

Hartman returned to the United States in the 1980s and continued working with the Society of Mary Marianists in Cincinnati.

The court heard the woman approached the society to ensure he did not have access to children.

She later received a letter from Hartman acknowledging her hurt, but the matter went no further.

Hartman has been committed to stand trial in the Victorian County Court on all charges.

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