Former Farmington priest arrested on charges of sexually abusing teenager in 1970s



A 78-year-old former priest in Farmington has been charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old in the 1970s as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to crack down on abuse within the state’s seven Catholic dioceses.

Gary Berthiaume, 78, was arrested Tuesday at his home in Warrendale, Ill., and was charged with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony that carries up to 15 years in prison.

The assault allegedly occurred at the rectory of Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington in 1977, when Berthiaume was a priest with the Archdiocese of Detroit. That same year, Berthiaume was arrested for sexually assaulting two other minors in Michigan and sentenced to six months in the Oakland County Jail. After his release, he was transferred to the Diocese of Cleveland and then moved 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 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.”

Nessel’s ongoing investigation of sexual assault in the Catholic Church has led to charges against 11 individuals. In October 2018, Nessel’s office executed a search warrant related to clergy abuse and seized 1.5 million paper documents and 3.5 million electronic documents.

To report clergy abuse to the Michigan Attorney General's Office, call 844-324-3374.

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