“Why not accept him as he is?”

Yesterday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced former Michigan priest Gary Berthiaume was charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy at the rectory of Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, Michigan in 1977. https://www.mlive.com/news/2020/09/former-michigan-priest-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-14-year-old-boy-in-1977.html. I well-remember this fuck’s name from the OCCK days.

Berthiaume was 35 in 1977 when he was charged with criminal sexual conduct involving a 14-year old boy. I found two undated news clippings about his arrest in the box of news articles my Mom had kept once her son had no further need for photo albums.

While these two old news articles mention only one victim, coverage of the most recent charges filed against Berthiaume mention that he assaulted two boys in Michigan in 1977.

The book Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, the Search for a Child Killer, by Tommy McIntyre (1988), mentions this priest (using the name “Stephen Bethleham”) and his questioning by the task force. (Chapter 33, p. 222-29.). The book describes the priest taking and passing a polygraph exam. It also describes the priest as having a law degree and having practiced in Nevada before he found his true calling.

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing book discusses a widow who is the mother of a 12-year-old boy who asks “Bethleham” if anything “happened” at summer camp that he is aware of. (Chapter 26, p. 163-64). So this may be the younger of the priest’s two known victims at that time.

While the criminal sexual conduct felony Berthiaume was charged with was punishable with a maximum 15-year sentence, he ultimately pleaded guilty to “gross indecency between males.” and was sentenced to SIX MONTHS in jail and fined $1,000.

A simple Google search of this guy shows that after Berthiaume was released from jail (subject to 5 years of probation), he continued to prey on boys as he was moved from diocese to diocese and church officials hid his past from parishioners. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2002_03_10_McCarty_DioceseConfronted_Allen_Bruening_2.htm. The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an impressive series of articles called “The Cost of Abuse” starting in 2002 about the tactics of the Catholic Church used to protect pedophile priests and to intimidate and crush victims, whom they treated with not one ounce of compassion.

Berthiaume, as a convicted pedophile on probation, was moved to Cleveland where he was even the sex ed teacher at Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church and grade school. Eventually Berthiaume faced multiple accusations of sexual abuse of boys in Cleveland and he was moved to the Joliet Diocese in Joliet, Illinois in 1987, where he served as chaplain for Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Il.

As a pathetic, but almost predictable aside, the bishop who “accepted” Berthiaume in Joliet was Bishop Joseph Imesch. Imesch had been the pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows when Berthiaume was a priest there in the 1970s, and during the time Berthiaume was being investigated by the OCCK task force. Father Imesch, in his capacity as Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit and representing Cardinal John F. Dearden, Archbishop of Detroit, WAS ONE OF THE CONCELEBRANTS AT TIM KING’S FUNERAL at Holy Name Church in Birmingham, MI.

In 2002 Berthiaume was relieved of his duties at Good Samaritan under mounting public pressure. Bishop Imesch, noting that the Catholic Church is one “of forgiveness,” had only told Berthiaume’s immediate supervisors about his past. “I don’t know that it’s necessary to tell people this is his past. Why not accept him as he is?” (From NewsNet5.com, ABC Cleveland report dated 5-3-02).

I knew this shitbag had ultimately been sent to a “retreat home” in Warrenville, Illinois, years ago. I looked him up and realized he was one suburb over from where I was living in Illinois at the time. I’m glad he is being extradited to Michigan.

Commenting on the charges against Berthiaume, AG Nessel said:

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.

Her office will have its hands full investigating sexual abuse within the seven Catholic dioceses across Michigan. It’s impressive that the AG is moving on these cases. Including Berthiaume, the investigation has resulted in criminal charges being filed against 11 individuals with ties to the Catholic Church.

How about that hypnosis session, Vince?

We knew you’d be back, Vince. Parolee James Vincent Gunnels is back under parole supervision in Michigan. Thank you to a reader. https://mdocweb.state.mi.us/otis2/otis2profile.aspx?mdocNumber=186011. If you have read Marney Keenan’s book, The Snow Killings, Inside the Oakland County Child Killer Investigation, you know that in June 2019 Vince Gunnels suggested to interrogators that maybe if he was taken to a hypnotist it would help him remember details about the OCCK case. (p. 238.). Months later, no arrangements had been made for this hypnosis session and Gunnels failed to report to his parole office in December 2019 and was once again a parole absconder.

Keenan describes that one of two state troopers present stated at this meeting with Gunnels that the hypnosis could be set up. Well, now’s the time, MSP. If you blow this off, that is strike #3 for 2020. First, you ignored important confidential but credible evidence that was given to you in January 2020. Next, you failed to address the tip about Bloomfield Township/Village cop and pedophile Richard McNamee–the cop who responded to the Busch “suicide” scene on November 11, 1978. A victim came forward in July and she was ignored. Here is opportunity #3. Gunnels is back in Michigan and his parole officer could help set up a hypnosis session. I’d call the tip line, but you know how that goes.

At some point the system has to work; those with the authority to advance this investigation have to do some work, not stall things out. All the books, documentaries and blog posts in the world can’t solve a case the cops don’t want solved.

It bears repeating that the name James Vincent Gunnels was first revealed by the MSP when they sat down with family members of Kristine Mihelich and had three binders on a table, one each for a person of interest in the investigation. Garry Gray was going to show off Cory William’s hard work. Gunnels was the subject of one of those notebooks. Gunnels ran with Busch and Greene. The MSP knew that. Was that notebook put together just for fun? They haven’t been able to get anywhere with the poor, drug-addled victim, Gunnels, who claims to know nothing. Two other young men who were similarly victimized–one of them by Busch–spoke openly with police. But Vince just can’t access that tiny conscience of his. Now that Gunnels is back in your fine state, take him up on his offer to be hypnotized.

The Gilgo Beach Murders Were a Cold Case. Then a New Police Chief Arrived.

New York Times, September 25, 2020

This Time’s article is interesting for its parallels and contrasts to the OCCK case. For a decade after 16 bodies were found near a stretch of Ocean Parkway in New York–a burial ground used by a serial killer–no person of interest, no suspect–no comment by the Suffolk County Police Department. For many years, the police commissioners “seemed reluctant to discuss the case publicly and those who lived in the affected beach towns had tried to wish it away.” (Sound familiar?)

Most of the victims appeared to be young women who had worked as escorts. Commissioner Hart acknowledged how poorly the police were regarded in the public eye, “seen as showing little more than apathy and even disdain for the victims.” One senior detective in 2011 said it was a “consolation” to the community that the victims were only prostitutes. This man is the kind of detective that makes me hate police. Seriously.

In 2012 Suffolk police abruptly locked the FBI out of the “Long Island serial killer” investigation and was sent packing before the bureau’s behavioral analysis unit could develop a profile of the killer. “Ms Hart said she learned this was happening for one reason: Suffolk County’s newly appointed chief of department, James Burke, seemed to want it that way. And there was a reason for that, too: The Justice Department was investigating him for corruption.” Seems Burke assaulted a suspect who had stolen a bag filled with pornography and sex toys from Burke’s car. Burke then did the police chief thing and pressured detectives who witnessed the assault to keep quiet. The Suffolk County district attorney then got in on the game and helped with the cover-up.

Eventually both Burke and the D.A. were convicted of conspiracy and Suffolk County became notorious as one of the nation’s most corrupt law enforcement jurisdictions.” Hey, Suffolk County, I have a county in Michigan that could give your’s a run for its money. Big time.

This past spring, two years into the job, Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart announced a major break in this case which had “confounded her predecessors for nearly a decade.” Hart had moved Suffolk County’s most notorious unsolved case forward “where others once seemed determined to keep it from going anywhere at all.”

Hart, who spent 20 years working as an FBI agent, welcomed the FBI back into the investigation now that the conspiring pornmeister and assaulter Burke was gone. After seeing the Golden State Killer arrested using genetic genealogy, Hart called a colleague at the FBI and asked “How do we get this done?”

As in the OCCK case, the evidence in the Long Island serial killer case has little in common with what police had to work with in the Golden State Killer case. Hart partnered with the FBI to engage a private lab to process an unidentified victim’s DNA. Identifying the victims may lead more directly to the killer. The identification of victim “Jane Doe No. 6” as Valerie Mack last May was the first successful genetic genealogy investigation in New York.

Commissioner Hart held a press conference in the wake of publicity on the case and a Netflix release for “Lost Girls.” She defended her decision to be more public about the case. “We’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary on this. It’s received a ton of publicity. So how do we get the message out? The thought is, somebody out there knows something.”

When have you ever heard a press conference from the Michigan State Police on the OCCK case? There has been momentum in the OCCK case with more publicity than ever before via books, podcasts, articles and documentaries in the last few years. Yet all the MSP does is respond to a well-written factual account of all we can know about these cases given the actions of a few dirty players at the top, by saying “We don’t comment on fiction.” Those are fighting words as far as I’m concerned.

The makers of the documentary Children of the Snow, based on the 2018 book The Kill Jar, written by J. Reuben Appelman, had to PRESS officials to provide a tip line number to give the public with the documentary. Who announces this and requests people with any information come forward–a member of the MSP? Oh, hell no. It’s left to Detective Cory Williams, with Wayne County–not Oakland County (as in OAKLAND COUNTY Child Killer), to make the pitch.

Have we ever heard from Birmingham P.D. or the Oakland County Sheriff’s office in the OCCK case? Hell no. So convenient that the information, such as it is and in the shape it is in, is shoved in a room at an MSP post. And they are never in the mood to talk about the OCCK case.

In the meantime, in Suffolk County, Commissioner Hart continues to press ahead with DNA identification of as-yet unnamed victims. How about this as a giant contrast to the OCCK case:

That’s a new sentiment in the Suffolk County Police Department: the idea that investigating the case and acknowledging the families’ pain are two sides of the same coin, that doing one helps the other. That realization could be the greatest step forward the police have taken in this case. “There’s a lot of work left do do,” Ms. Hart said. “But there is momentum. And I’m going to continue to use that momentum to move forward.”

Think about that the next time you cast a ballot for mayor or city council members (to whom police chiefs report), or for a prosecuting attorney (potentially especially dangerous), county sheriff (reports to no one except the voters every four years), or attorney general or governor (who should be keeping an eye on the state police). At the micro and macro-level, these elected officials can do some serious damage or some serious good. Do you want someone who can work with momentum or are you happy with the “consolation” that the killing stopped in Oakland County after just four kids were taken and killed in 1976 and 1977?

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