Father Donald Hartman was a fixture in the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan. But in 1992, he was removed from public ministry after reports surfaced of clergy sexual abuse involving a 12-year-old altar boy, and the previous year, a civil complaint was filed in Dickinson County Circuit court claiming Hartman sexually assaulted a different altar boy at American Martyrs Church in Escanaba. 

Long after Hartman left the clergy and even after he died in 1999, the Diocese received several more complaints of sexual abuse.

  • In 2002, a man who had served as an altar boy in the 1950s informed Bishop James Garland that Hartman was a pedophile and had sexually assaulted him at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in St. Ignace. Michigan. Because Fr. Hartman ended his ministerial duties with the church and moved to the State of New York, minimal action was taken against him.
  • In 2004, in response to another allegation against Hartman, an investigation revealed that he met minors off of church property and invited them to his house, where he would sexually abuse them. Reports described how he fondled children and performed fellatio on them. To hide his crimes, Hartman instructed his victims not to tell anyone. Survivors stayed silent for decades.
  • In 2010, a survivor reported Hartman sexually assaulted him as a teenage boy in 1963. A witness corroborated the report, recalling that she saw Hartman sexually abusing a minor on church property and bringing it to the attention of the boy’s mother. After an internal investigation, the church moved Hartman to another parish.

As time passed and the teenage boys became adults, they bravely came forward to tell their stories, expose Hartman’s wrongdoing, and hold the church responsible for allowing his crimes to continue.   

Experienced personal injury attorneys Lisa Esser-WeidenfellerMatthew Curtis, and Jay Yasso fight for those subjected to adolescent and adult sexual abuse. Sommers Schwartz has recovered millions in compensation for people victimized by predators, such as Michigan State University and USAG team physician Dr. Larry Nassar and University of Michigan physician Dr. Robert Anderson, who abused students, athletes, and patients for more than 35 years.

If Fr. Hartman or any other priest, pastor, or clergy member sexually abused you, you can seek compensation from the church and others who let the crimes continue unchecked. Contact Lisa, Matt, or Jay today to discuss your case – rest assured, they will show you the compassion, empathy, and sensitivity you deserve while aggressively pursuing your rights. All consultations about your situation are free and confidential.

Jay Yasso

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Jay Yasso

Jay Yasso focuses his practice on medical malpractice, automobile negligence, and personal injury. He has litigated, mediated and facilitated numerous multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of injured victims for over two decades.



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