Former Dayton Marianist brother facing charges in Australia

Marianist Brother Bernard Hartman, who was working in Dayton when allegations of long-ago sexual abuse of children on the other side of the globe made headlines in late 2011, has “voluntarily” returned to Australia to face charges, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Thursday.

The report said the 73-year-old appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on charges he abused four children while working at St. Paul’s College in the 1970s and 1980s. Prosecutors told the court Hartman’s victims were two boys and two girls aged 6 to 16 at the time of the offenses, which took place at the college and the children’s homes, Australian Broadcasting reported.

Hartman’s next court hearing is set for November, according to the report.

In a prepared statement Thursday, the Rev. Martin Solma, provincial for the Marianist Province of the United States in St. Louis, said the Marianists recently received notice that Australian authorities had issued a warrant for Hartman’s arrest.

“Once the charges were made and the warrant was issued, the province responded accordingly, and Brother Hartman voluntarily returned to Australia,” accompanied by a Marianist supervisor, Solma said. “The province is committed to cooperating with Australian law enforcement agencies in this matter.”

Hartman had been “doing clerical work — basically stuffing envelopes” near Chaminade-Julienne High School when an investigative report in the Australian newspaper The Age exposed the allegations in late 2011, Diane Guerra, a spokeswoman for the Marianist Province of the United States, told the Dayton Daily News at the time. She said Hartman was “very well supervised” in “an all-adult environment.” He relocated from Dayton after the story broke.

In December 2011, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati confirmed that Hartman had admitted to abusing a minor in Australia in the 1970s and was under a “safety plan” requiring that he not work with children or vulnerable women. The safety plan was approved by an independent abuse risk management company hired by the Marianists. Officials of the Cincinnati archdiocese and the Marianist University of Dayton said he was not affiliated with either organization.

Solma’s statement said Hartman was removed from ministry in 1997 after Marianist officials received “two credible accusations from Melbourne regarding incidents that occurred in the 1970s.” He underwent inpatient therapy.

“For a year and a half, Brother Hartman has been living in a ‘safe house’ with 24-hour supervision,” Solma said. “During this time, he had no contact with adolescents or children, and was doing no ministry work.”

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