“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.