Department of Attorney General - Michigan [Lansing MI]
November 8, 2021
By Lynsey Mukomel
A former priest in Oakland County has pleaded guilty to sex abuse, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today.
Gary Berthiaume, 79, was sent to trial in July by Judge James Brady in Oakland County’s 47th District Court on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC), 15-year felonies. That development involved the original case against him, which was charged last year.
In June, Berthiaume was charged with additional felonies in two new cases. Both cases were sent to trial by the end of September.
All three cases stem from allegations of abuse in the 1970s involving three different victims who were between 13- and 15-years-old at the time. Berthiaume was a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington during that timeframe.
Monday before Judge Daniel O’Brien, Berthiaume pleaded guilty to the following:
- two counts of second-degree CSC, 15-year felonies.
He pleaded no contest to a third charge:
- one count of gross indecency, a 5-year felony or $2,500 fine.
The pleas reflect one count in each of the three cases.
“This plea secures long-awaited justice for those who bravely came forward with their stories,” Nessel said. “My clergy abuse investigation team continues to work tirelessly to reach similar outcomes in our additional cases.”
Sentencing is set for Dec. 20.
UPDATE ON CLERGY ABUSE INVESTIGATION
Since the investigation began in October 2018, 11 people have been charged in the Department of Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Investigation.
In August, former Catholic school music teacher Joseph Comperchio was sentenced to 12 to 30 years in prison.
In July, former U.P. priest Gary Jacobs received his second prison sentence. Jacobs’ sentence is between eight and 15 years in prison.
Below is a brief summary of where the other pending cases stand:
- Vincent DeLorenzo, who was a priest at Holy Redeemer Church in Burton, Michigan was arrested in Marion County, Florida in May 2019 and charged with three felony counts of first-degree CSC and three felony counts of second-degree CSC. His next court date in Genesee County Circuit Court is set for Dec. 9.
- Jacob Vellian, a former priest at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Benton Harbor, was charged in May 2019 with two counts of rape. His extradition from India is in progress.
- Timothy Crowley, who was a priest at St. Thomas Rectory in Ann Arbor, was charged in May 2019 with four felony counts of first-degree CSC and four felony counts of second-degree CSC. The case was dismissed after a preliminary examination and remains pending in the Michigan Court of Appeals.
- Joseph “Jack” Baker, a pastor at St. Mary Parish in Wayne and an associate pastor at Sacred Heart in Dearborn and at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills, was charged with one count of first-degree CSC. He is set for a review date Jan. 24, 2022, in Wayne County Circuit Court.
- Roy Joseph, a priest in Marquette, was charged in Marquette County with one count of first-degree CSC. His extradition from India is in progress.
- Neil Kalina, who was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township, will face trial for one count of first-degree CSC and two counts of second-degree CSC. He’s due in Macomb County Circuit Court on Jan. 18, 2022.
Thus far, more than four million documents pertaining to dioceses across Michigan have been reviewed as part of Nessel’s ongoing clergy abuse investigation. More than half a million documents remain in the review stage, all of which were obtained as part of the investigation. To learn more, or to submit information they may assist the clergy abuse investigative team, visit the Attorney General’s website. Tips can also be provided over the phone by calling 844-324-3374.
Media contact: Lynsey Mukomel 517-599-2746
Public inquiries: 517-335-7622
This project was supported in part by Grant No. WE AX 0030 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.