San Diego priest sentenced for sexual misconduct with woman

Diocesan spokesman: “Father Jacob is not expected to return to active ministry”

Father Jacob Bertrand (image from FoxNews)

A chance encounter in Rome led a Minnesota woman to seek spiritual solace from a San Diegan studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood, Jacob Bertrand.

She received his prayers — and a sexual relationship that Bertrand later described as “the second holiest sacrifice next to Jesus and Mary on Calvary.”

In a Minnesota courtroom Monday, Bertrand was sentenced to 10 years probation and a $1,000 fine for criminal sexual conduct. He was also ordered to complete an assessment as a sex offender and then undergo any recommended therapy.

Bertrand violated a Minnesota statute that forbids sex between members of certain professions and the people they counsel.

In 2009, while a deacon studying in Rome, Bertrand met a woman who was studying spirituality — and, she told Bertrand, hoped to find a husband. They began to meet every Wednesday for what Bertrand called “holy conversation,” which sometimes dwelled on Bertrand’s sexual history.

In June 2010, Bertrand and the woman both flew to San Diego, where he was ordained. A month later, while visiting her in Minnesota, he initiated several sexual encounters with her, once during a private Mass celebrated in the basement of the woman’s parents’ home.

Returning to San Diego, Bertrand repeatedly contacted her and urged her to keep their relationship secret.

“The devil tempts me to think that you will tell someone,” he said during a December 2011 telephone call, “and ruin my ministry.”

She complained to church officials in Minnesota in 2012 and 2014, the latter complaint being forwarded to the San Diego diocese. In April 2016, she went to the police and made a criminal complaint.

Bertrand was indicted in Minnesota in October 2016. This January, he pled guilty to the single charge of criminal sexual conduct.

For the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, Bertrand served in four parishes: St. Rose of Lima in Chula Vista (2010-2013), Santa Sophia in Spring Valley (2013-2015) and St. Vincent de Paul in Mission Hills and St. John the Evangelist in Hillcrest, (both 2015-2016).

He also gave talks to college students at San Diego State University’s Newman Center.

In August 2016, he took a leave of absence.

“Father Jacob is not expected to return to active ministry,” Kevin Eckery, a diocesan spokesman, said Monday.

Bertrand faced maximum penalties of 15 years in prison and $30,000 in fines.

Full story at San Diego Union-Tribune.


  1. It would seem that this man’s priestly vocation was not sincere in the slightest. He was unfaithful to his priestly promises just a month after ordination? And during a private Mass? What kind of discernment and formation process does the Diocese of San Diego use that let such an obvious bad judgment occur? Is the Church so desperate for priests that any man who shows any interest is automatically advanced? Wait — I take that back — of course in San Diego any man who showed affinity for Latin or doctrine or the TLM would certainly have his candidacy rejected. I must add that the woman bears half the blame in this too. They were both adults.

  2. The link to the entire story states that the sentence resulted from a plea agreement with which the woman agreed. While the Diocese says Farther Bertrand will likely not return to active ministry, have they taken action to permanently defrock him, as the facts may warrant? I thought the rule was ‘one strike and you are out’. Or will the Chuch turn a blind eye, like they did with the child sex scandal?

  3. Gratias says:

    This #MeToo is getting excessive. Reminds me of the book The Thornbirds.

  4. Joan of El Cajon says:

    So, a priest who falls into sin with a woman is severely penalized, while legions of homosexual priests are not? What’s wrong with this picture? What am I missing?

    • Ventura observer says:

      You’re not missing anything. You accurately discern the spirit of Vatican II. As feminism denies the differences between the sexes, it must ultimately deny heterosexuality itself.

    • Lou Varini says:


      Total agreement here. Take a look at the article from Life Site News:

    • Anonymous says:

      He took a leave of absence. He has not been penalized by the Church. His penalty is a civil penalty for breaking a law in MN.

      • Lou Varini says:

        You miss the point. Please read Joan’s comment. In plain words, the Church hierarchy is “selective” in the resolurn of scandals.

        Civil penalties wete not within the scope of hre comment. Rather, the turnimg of a “blind eye” to behavior geographically closer to tne Holy See is even more scandalous.

    • Anonymous says:

      A San Diego priest has admitted to sexual misconduct while celebrating a private Mass eight years ago in a woman’s Mendota Heights home…
      In the summer of 2010, Bertrand “wore his stole, and had candles burning,” and the victim “straddled Bertrand while he performed the Sacrifice of the Mass,” according to the revised criminal complaint.

  5. St. Christopher says:

    Excellent point by “Joan of El Cajon.” If Fr. Bertrand was an active homosexual, and told his congregation, he would likely get applause. And, his bishop might well reward him with a public embrace and accolades about his “courage” and all that.

    Not that Fr. Bertrand is beyond blame, far from it. But to be deprived of his ministry seems very, very harsh. How many homosexuals, once publicly known, get any kind of punishment. It seems the institutional Church is embarrassed at Fr. Bertrand’s heterosexuality, not in correcting his sin.

  6. Jacob Bertrand is young and was obviously naive about his character defects and acted on them in an immature manner. This is also probably applies to the woman. Mr. Bertrand should do himself and the Diocese of San Diego a favor and resign from the priesthood after completing the requirements imposed by the Court.

    • Truth-seeker says:

      His actions as recited in the article suggest (1) laicization followed by (2) lots and lots of psychiatry. This is a young man entirely out of touch with the inner call of conscience possessed by normal people.

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