Ex-Oakland County Sheriff deputy recorded family member in sexual way, state police say

A 46-year-old former deputy with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office is now facing felony charges for allegedly videotaping a family member in a sexual way - accusations that potentially stem back years.

Michigan State Police are now leading an investigation into Joseph Fornier, who was a sergeant with the sheriff's office for 10 years before he was fired after refusing to comply with an internal investigation.

An individual with years of experience as a law enforcement officer, Fornier had previously worked with Detroit Police and in a jail before moving onto the sheriff's office. 

He had been on long-term disability for about a year before his employment was terminated for refusing a direct order. The sheriff's office had started looking into his background after his wife had filed a personal protection order against him in February.

The charges soon followed.

"The suspect, Mr. Fortier had set up cameras around the home without anybody else’s knowledge and was recording," said Lt. Rene Gonzalez with MSP. 

Recording isn't necessarily a crime. But it's what the defendant was recording that turned his alleged actions into a crime.

"It's of a sexual nature," Gonzalez said, characterizing the content of the clips.

There's only one victim - a family member. The relationship has not been disclosed at this time. Police believe it started years ago. 

"It is believed to have started in 2018 and the victim was only aware of it earlier in 2022 or 2023," said Gonzalez. 

The complaint was made to state police, which led to the investigation and Wednesday's arraignment. Fornier was charged with one count of eavesdropping and three felony counts of videotaping someone unclothed.