In Michigan, a defendant may enter a “Killebrew plea,” which is essentially a conditional guilty plea in exchange for a lighter sentence. This plea can be withdrawn if the judge sentences the defendant to a harsher sentence than what was agreed upon.
After hearing victim impact statements, O’Brien decided that Berthiaume deserved more than 366 days in prison. Berthiaume, as per the terms of the Killebrew agreement, then withdrew his pleas.
Before his guilty pleas were withdrawn, Berthiaume had admitted to molesting two teenage boys in the rectory of his parish in Farmington, Michigan, in 1976 and 1977. He said that he knew the two boys and “coerced” them into abuse.
Berthiaume pled no contest to accusations that he had sexually molested the teenage brother of one of his other victims at a sauna house in the early ‘70s. He said that he did not remember the event, but admitted that it “may have happened.”
The former priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, who was ordained in 1968, was dismissed from the clerical state in 2007. He had previously been convicted of the abuse of two minors in 1978.
After Berthiaume served a six-month jail sentence, he was then transferred to the Diocese of Cleveland. While serving in the Diocese of Cleveland, Berthiaume allegedly abused at least one additional minor, and was sued in a civil suit in 1983 by an alleged victim from the Archdiocese of Detroit.
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