Former Priest at Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington Charged with Sexually Assaulting Young Boy
By Aileen Wingblad
September 29, 2020
|Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel|
A former Catholic priest who served time in the Oakland County Jail for gross indecency between males is now facing a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge for allegedly sexually assaulting a young boy at a Farmington church in 1977.
Gary Berthiaume, 78, was arrested at his home in Warrendale, Illinois on Sept. 29 and is facing extradition to Michigan.
The charge stems from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s allegations into sexual abuse within seven Catholic dioceses across the state.
According to a news release from the attorney general’s office, the victim was 14 at the time of the assault, which he said took place in August 1977 at the rectory of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Farmington, where Berthiaume was a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Berthiaume was arrested in 1977 for sexual assault of two other minors in Michigan. After serving six months in the 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, the news release stated.
“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 stated in the news 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 Oakland Press reached out to the Archdiocese of Detroit for comment but has not yet received a response.
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 individuals with ties to the Catholic Church, the news release stated.
Another case tied to Oakland County involves Father Joseph "Jack" Baker who was serving as a pastor of St. Perpetua Catholic Church in Waterford when he was charged last year with first-degree criminal sexual conduct-sexual penetration with a person less than 13 years old. It's alleged that the assault happened in a storage room of St. Mary Catholic Church in Wayne in 2004. A trial is pending in Oakland County Circuit Court.
For more information about Nessel’s investigation into clergy abuse or to submit information, visit the Attorney General’s website. Tips can also be provided by calling 844-324-3374.