Former Michigan priest to face trial for alleged sex abuse of 14-year-old boy

MLive [Walker MI]

July 21, 2021

By Justine Lofton

OAKLAND COUNTY, MI – A former Catholic priest will go to trial for sexual abuse against a minor, officials announced today.

An Oakland County judge ruled today, July 21, that there is enough evidence against Gary Berthiaume, 80, to bound him over to circuit court for trial on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC), a 15-year felony.

The alleged assaults were committed against a 14-year-old boy in 1977 at the rectory of Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington Hills where Berthiaume was a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

“Seeing Mr. Berthiaume bound over for trial is yet another example of my clergy abuse investigation team’s dedication to securing justice for survivors,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure those who bravely come forward with their stories receive their day in court.”

Last month, Berthiaume was charged in two new cases with two counts of gross indecency, a five-year felony. The two victims were also between 13-15 years old at the time of the assaults in the 1970s. He was a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte when the alleged crimes occurred.

Details of the two new cases, which are in the 46th District Court, have not been released and preliminary examinations have not been scheduled.

The ongoing cases are not the first instances of Berthiaume being in trouble for sexual misconduct. He was arrested in 1977 for sexual assault of two additional minors in Michigan. After serving a sentence in Oakland County Jail, he was transferred to the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio. He was moved again in 1987 to the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois.

Berthiaume was arrested on the second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges in September in Illinois. He waived extradition and returned to Michigan in October. The two additional victims came forward later.

After more than two years of investigation, Nessel’s clergy abuse team has secured criminal against 11 individuals, including Berthiaume, and convictions against four of them so far.

Last week, former U.P. priest Gary Jacobs received his second prison sentence: eight to 15 years imprisonment for one count of second-degree CSC. He was sentenced in May to eight to 15 years in prison for three counts of first-degree CSC and one count of second-degree CSC. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Last month, former Catholic school music teacher Joseph Comperchio pleaded guilty to sex abuse charges that will result in at least a decade in prison.

Former priests Patrick Casey and Brian Stanley were sentenced to 45 and 60 days in jail, respectively.

To learn more about Nessel’s investigation into clergy abuse or to submit information, visit the Attorney General’s website. Tips can also be reported by calling 844-324-3374.