Former Michigan priest charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct

Assault happened in 1977, officials say

Handcuffs (WDIV)

FARMINGTON, Mich. – A former priest in the Farmington area has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor.

The charges are part of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s investigation into sexual abuse within the seven Catholic dioceses across the state.

Gary Berthiaume, 78, has been charged with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The charge is a 15-year felony. He was arrested on Tuesday at his home in Warrendale, Illinois. He will face extradition to Michigan.

The victim was 14 years old at the time of the assault, officials said. The assault took place in August of 1977 at the rectory of Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, where Berthiaume was a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, officials said.

Berthiaume was arrested in 1977 for sexual assault of two other minors in Michigan. After serving a jail sentence 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.

“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. “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.

The investigation has resulted in criminal charges being filed against 11 individuals with ties to the Catholic Church. Click here to learn more.

Tips can be provided over the phone by calling 844-324-3374.

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Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.