Probation is the sentence for a Catholic priest who engaged in sexual activity with a woman for whom he was conducting mass in her Mendota Heights home.
Jacob A. Bertrand, 35, of San Diego, was sentenced Monday by Dakota County District Judge Karen Asphaug to 10 years’ probation and fined $1,000.
Bertrand also was ordered to undergo a sex offender assessment and agree to any recommended therapy or counseling. He pleaded guilty in January to one count of criminal sexual conduct, while a second count of the same charge was dismissed.
The sentence also includes what is known as a “stay of adjudication,” meaning the conviction will be erased if Bertrand stays out of trouble while on probation.
The County Attorney’s Office pointed out in a statement that Bertrand risks being sent to prison if he violates any conditions of probation.
“The plea agreement in this case was entered into after considerable discussions with the victim and upon receiving her consent,” said County Attorney James Backstrom. “We are pleased that Mr. Bertrand has been held accountable for his actions.”
According to the criminal complaint, in July 2010 Bertrand visited a Mendota Heights woman he had met in 2009 in Rome while they were studying spirituality and he was a deacon.
At one point during his trip to Minnesota, Bertrand and the woman engaged in a private mass in the basement of her Mendota Heights home, where they had sexual contact.
After the ceremony, Bertrand told the woman “they had ‘fulfilled the second holiest sacrifice next to Jesus and Mary on Calvary,’ ” according to the complaint. He also told her that it was so “mystical” they should not talk about it to others.
The woman, now in her early 30s, reported the sexual encounter to Mendota Heights police after notifying church officials in 2012 and 2014, the complaint read.
In a letter he sent the victim in 2014, Bertrand apologized “for the many injustices and scandals to your faith caused by the fault that lies on me,” the complaint continued.
Bertrand took a leave of absence from ministry in August 2016. On Monday, San Diego diocese spokesman Kevin Eckery told the San Diego Tribune that Bertrand “is not expected to return to active ministry.”