Priest sentenced in Mendota Heights criminal sexual conduct case

Jacob Andrew Bertrand

A man who had sex with a woman he was counseling as an ordained priest in 2010 has been sentenced as part of a plea agreement. Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced May 7 that Jacob Andrew Bertrand, 35, was sentenced to 10 years probation that same day after pleading guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He has a stayed sentence of four years in prison and will pay a $1,000 fine. Bertrand is also required to undergo a sex offender assessment and follow any recommended therapy or counseling. As part of his plea agreement, a second count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct was dismissed, according to a press release. Bertrand pleaded guilty on Jan. 22 to the single count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for sex he had with the woman in June or July 2010 at a Mendota Heights home. 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. "The plea agreement in this case was entered into after considerable discussions with the victim and upon receiving her consent. We are pleased that Mr. Bertrand has been held accountable for his actions," Backstrom said in the release.

--Hannah Burlingame

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