Priest pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct in Dakota County

Jacob Andrew Bertrand

A Catholic priest pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a woman during a “private Mass” at her parents’ Mendota Heights home in summer 2010.

Jacob Andrew Bertrand, 35, entered his guilty plea Jan. 22 in Dakota County District Court. As part of the plea agreement, a second count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct was dismissed. A member of the clergy can be charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota if he or she has sex with a person who “sought or received religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort from the actor in private,” per state statute.

The sex occurred while Bertrand was an ordained Catholic priest. He’s currently on a leave of absence from the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.

Bertrand was charged in October 2016 after the Mendota Heights Police Department received a report from the then 30-year-old woman on April 28, 2016, regarding sexual contact with Bertrand.

The criminal complaint said that in 2009, the woman, who was studying spirituality at a university in Rome, Italy, met Bertrand who was then a deacon at a Catholic Church in the city. They began to meet every Wednesday for “holy conversation” and Bertrand initiated a romantic relationship with the woman that continued after he was ordained.

Bertrand’s sentencing is scheduled for May 7 in Hastings. He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years, a $30,000 fine, or both.


—Hannah Burlingame

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