Elderly ex-priest gets prison for abusing 3 Metro Detroit teens in the 1970s

January 20, 2022, 12:30 PM

A former priest in Oakland and Wayne counties who's a serial offender is sentenced to over a year in prison after pleading guilty to sex abuse of three minors.

The former clergyman bounced from suburban Detroit to Cleveland and then Joliet, Ill. (Photo: Michigan Attorney General's Office)

Gary Berthiaume, 79, gets 17 months to 15 years after pleading guilty last November to a pair of second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. Judge Daniel P. O'Brien of Oakland Circuit Court also gave the ex-clergyman a sentence of the same length Friday on one count of gross indecency. He'll be on a lifeong sex offender registry and will undergo counseling.

The cases stemmed from 1970s abuse of victims who were between 13 and 15 years old while Berthiaume was a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later at the aptly named Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington.

The outcome is announced by the state attorney general's office, which investigated victims' complaints and brought charges in September 2020. The defendant was arrested at his home in Warrenville, Ill.

At age 47, when he was pre-seminary director for the Detroit Archdiocese

He's a repeat offender who was arrested in 1977 for sexual assault of two other minors in Michigan.  After serving time in the Oakland County Jail, he was transferred to the Diocese of Cleveland and allegedly offended again.

He was moved in 1987 to the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois and worked as a hospital chaplain until 2002.

"It remains our priority to secure accountability for those who bravely share their stories," the attorney general says in today's media release.

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