Former Oakland County priest sentenced in sex abuse cases

A former priest in Oakland County will serve more than a year in prison after pleading guilty to sex abuse, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday.

Gary Berthiaume, 79, was sent to trial in July on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC). That development involved the original case against him, which was charged in September 2020. 

A month prior, in June, Berthiaume was charged with additional felonies in two new cases.  

In November, Berthiaume pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree CSC and no contest to one count of gross indecency. 

Thursday morning, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Daniel P. O’Brien sentenced Berthiaume to between 17 months and 15 years on the second-degree CSC counts and between 17 months and five years on the gross indecency count.  

Berthiaume will also register as a tier II sex offender and undergo counseling.  

“While we recognize no sentence can ever undo the harm inflicted on survivors of sexual abuse, it remains our priority to secure accountability for those who bravely share their stories,” Nessel said. 

The cases against Berthiaume stemmed from allegations of abuse in the 1970s involving three different victims who were between 13- and 15-years-old at the time. He was a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington during that timeframe. 

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.  

Eleven total defendants have been charged thus far, five of which have been convicted. 

To learn more, or to submit information that may assist the clergy abuse investigative team,?visit the attorney general’s website at www.michigan.gov/ag under “initiatives.” ?Tips can also be provided over the phone by calling?844-324-3374. 

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.

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