Former Farmington priest faces sexual assault charges

A former priest who served at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Farmington has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor, more than 40 years after he was convicted of molesting other children.

Dana Nessel
Attorney General Dana Nessel (State of Michigan)

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday that Gary Berthiaume, 78, has been charged with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony. According to a press release, he was arrested at his home in Warrenville, Illinois, and faces extradition to Farmington.

The victim, who was 14 at the time, reported the assault took place in August 1977 at the church rectory. Berthiaume was a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Berthiaume was arrested in 1977 for sexually assaulting two other Michigan children. After serving a six-month sentence in the Oakland County Jail, he was transferred to the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, then moved in 1987 to the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois.

The Chicago Tribune reported in 2006 that Berthiaume was removed from the ministry in 2002, due to sexual abuse allegations. He had been serving as a hospital chaplain.

“My office’s investigation into clergy abuse will continue to receive, review and act upon credible allegations of abuse on behalf of the many victims who have come forward,” Nessel said in the release. “Criminal sexual conduct at any level must not be tolerated, and we must ensure justice is served to those who assault others – particularly those authority figures and people in powerful positions who prey on the weak and vulnerable.”

The Michigan Department of the Attorney General seized 1.5 million paper documents and 3.5 million electronic documents through search warrants executed in October 2018. Including Berthiaume, the Attorney General’s investigation has resulted in criminal charges being filed against 11 people with ties to the Catholic Church.

To learn more about Nessel’s investigation into clergy abuse or if you have information about the case, visit the Attorney General’s website or call 844-324-3374.

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