Former Michigan Catholic Priest Charged With Sexual Abuse Thanks to AG
A Catholic priest who spent time in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois was arrested today on charges related to sexually abusing a minor. This is the latest example of how empowering survivors to come forward and make a report to law enforcement can help protect other children and get dangerous abusers off the street. We applaud the work done by the Michigan attorney general and her team and hope this news encourages others to come forward and make their own reports.
Fr. Gary Berthiaume, a former Michigan priest, has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct for abusing a then 14-year-old at Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington in 1977. He had previously served time in jail for abusing two children and we are grateful to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for pursuing this charge. We believe children are safer thanks to this arrest.
The most incomprehensible fact to come out of this story is that after Fr. Berthiaume was convicted, Catholic officials in Detroit simply transferred him to the Diocese of Cleveland. Still later, he was moved to the Diocese of Joliet. Transferring a known abuser in this way is clearly something that the Church has done repeatedly over the years, but it seems especially egregious to us to transfer a priest who had already gone to jail for sexual abuse. We can only wonder how many others Fr. Berthiaume was able to hurt due to this reckless behavior by Catholic officials.
Attorneys General in Ohio and Illinois should follow A.G. Nessel’s lead and look into Fr. Berthiaume’s history in their state and investigate whether he hurt any children there. We know that abusers often strike more than once, and especially given how his assaults were treated with indifference by Catholic officials, we fear there are other victims who are still silent.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)