Ex-Catholic priest in Oakland County faces more sex abuse charges

Detroit News [Detroit MI]

June 28, 2021

By Mark Hicks

A former priest in Oakland County charged with sexually assaulting a minor decades ago now faces two more cases, the Michigan Attorney General’s office announced Monday.

The three cases against Gary Berthiaume stem from allegations in the 1970s involving victims who were between 13 and 15 at the time, investigators said in a statement.

Berthiaume, 80, was then a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, according to the release.

Last year, he was charged with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony.

The victim was 14 and told authorities an assault took place in August 1977 at the Our Lady of Sorrows rectory in Farmington, officials have said.

A preliminary examination in that case is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 21 in Oakland County’s 47th District Court. 

On Friday, Berthiaume was arraigned in two other cases. 

He now faces two counts of gross indecency, five-year felonies, in 46th District Court, as well as two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, 15-year felonies, through 47th District Court, officials said Monday.

In the 46th District Court case, Berthiaume received a $5,000 bond and was ordered to have no contact with any victims or anyone under 18. His next hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 12 before Judge Debra Nance.  

In the other case, Berthiaume received a $100,000 bond and was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 16. A probable cause conference is scheduled for July 7.  

The charges follow others resulting from Attorney General Dana Nessel’s ongoing investigation of clergy abuse.

This month, her team secured its fourth conviction. Charges have been filed against 11 people with ties to the Catholic Church, Nessel’s office said.

“We remain indebted to the courageous survivors who share their stories and therefore allow our clergy abuse team to pursue criminal charges in court,” Nessel said in a Monday statement. “We must ensure justice is served against those who use their powerful positions to prey on others who seek guidance and trust.”