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Former priest in Farmington area charged with sexually assaulting minor

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Posted at 11:50 AM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 19:18:30-04

(WXYZ) — A former priest in the Farmington area has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor.

He has been charged as part of Attorney General Dana Nessel's clergy abuse investigation.

Gary Berthiaume, 78, is charged with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony. He was arrested at his Illinois home Tuesday and will face extradition to Farmington.

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

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 in a press 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.”

Including Berthiaume, Nessel's investigation has resulted in criminal charges being filed against 11 individuals with ties to the Catholic Church.

The Archdiocese of Detroit released the following statement regarding the investigation.

The Archdiocese of Detroit learned today of the arrest of Gary Berthiaume, a former priest who served in southeast Michigan in the 1970s. As a general practice, the archdiocese does not comment on pending criminal matters.

Individuals with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other Church representatives are urged to contact local law enforcement and/or the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or aginvestigations@michigan.gov.

Individuals also may contact the Archdiocese of Detroit by visiting protect.aod.org or by calling the 24/7 victim assistance line at (866) 343-8055 or by emailing vac@aod.org. There are no time limits or restrictions on individuals wishing to report abuse.