North Catholic alumni provide info for sexual abuse investigation

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PITTSBURGH - The Diocese of Pittsburgh recently sent a letter to a large group of North Catholic High School alumni in an effort to continue investigating sexual abuse allegations against a brother.

Dr. Michael Latusek, the acting secretary for Catholic Education/Superintendent for Catholic Schools, said the letter went out on March 28 to students enrolled from 1961-1965, 1979-1984 and 1986-2001.

“My reason for writing was to inform them of an allegation of sexual abuse that has been lodged against Brother Bernard Joseph Hartman, who was assigned to North Catholic during those years,” Latusek said. “I asked the alumni to inform the diocese and/or civil authorities if they were aware of any abuse by Brother Hartman.”

The letter didn’t result in any additional allegations, Latusek said. However, information concerning three other Marianists who served at the former North Catholic High School was brought to the diocese’s attention.

Latusek said the former staff members mentioned were Brother William Charles Hildebrand, Brother Francis Meder and Brother Ralph August Mravintz. All of the men are deceased.

“As the diocese deeply regrets the harm that was done to anyone, we also commend the courage of those who have brought this important information to light. In doing so, they have helped protect others,” Latusek said.

A copy of the most recent letter sent by the Diocese of Pittsburgh is below:

Dear Alumni of North Catholic High School,

On March 28, 2014, I sent a letter to the alumn of North Catholic High School who were enrolled in the following years, 1961-1965, 1979-1984, and 1986-2001.  My reason for writing was to inform them of an allegation of sexual abuse that has been lodged against Brother Bernard Joseph Hartman, who was assigned to North Catholic during those years.  I asked the alumni to inform the diocese and/or civil authorities if they were aware of any abuse by Brother Hartman.

While my letter of March 208, 2014, did not result in any additional allegations against Brother Hartman, information concerning three other Marianists who served at the former North Catholic High School was brought to our attention.  Those former staff members are:  Brother William Charles Hildebrand, who was at North Catholic from 1951-1961, and died on October 6, 1979, Brother Francis Meder, who was at North Catholic from 1952-1967 and 1970-1976 and died on June 10, 1076, and Brother Ralph August Mravintz, who was at North Catholic from 1960-1964 and died on May 23, 2006.

As the diocese deeply regrets the harm that was done to anyone, we also commend the courage of those who have brought this important information to light.  In doing so, they have helped protect others.

In the case of Brother Hildebrand and Brother Meder, there is no record of anyone bringing allegations of inappropriate behavior before my March 28, 2014 letter.  However, on April 10, 2014, an alumnis directed the diocese to newspaper accounts of the 1985 arrest of Brother Mravintz for fondling a 15-year-old student and his subsequent guilty plea to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.  I wish to thank the alumnus who brought this to our attention.  The diocese had no record of this charge.

If you or anyone you know has been harmed by Brother Hartman, Brother Hildebrand, Brother Meder, Brother Mravintz...or by anyone who worked at North Catholic or by anyone representing the Church...please call the Diocesan Victim Assistance Hotline at 1-888-808-1235, or the Pennsylvania State Abuse Hotline at 1-800-932-0313.

While the diocese notfies the civil authorities of all criminal allegations it receives, you should also notify local civil authorities.  As a diocese, our goal is to ensure that no child in the Church's care come to harm.  When you speak up, you help to create a culture in which noone remains silent about child abuse.

Thank you and God bless you,

Dr. Michael Latusek

Acting Secretary for Catholic Education/Superintendent for Catholic Schools.