Bostonian Viral Video Boys Have a Past of Drug Abuse, Domestic Violence
By now we’ve all seen the video: two fishermen record their encounter with a massive sunfish with in a charming, uniquely Bostonian way. The five minute video has garnered nationwide attention and brought “Mikey and Jay” an influx of endorsement deals, news and media coverage, and even a spot on the Jimmy Kimmel show.
The thing with sudden, fleeting rises to fame is they often uncover things in your past that you’d rather the world never knew.
Michael “Mikey” Bergin Jr. and Jason “Jay” Foster were recently slapped in the face with that reality when it came to light that not only do both men have a history of abusing opiates, but Bergin has a lengthy criminal history which includes violence against women and children that lead to two lifelong restraining orders.
According to the Boston Herald, on October 1st the two North Shore friends appeared in Malden District Court- Foster as a graduate of court mandated drug rehab and Bergin in support of his friend. Both stars of the viral video report they have been in recovery for opiates for at least two years, though Bergin says he has been clean for four.
This sobriety may have stemmed from a series of possible drug-fueled criminal acts which include an incident in which Michael was accused of throwing a phone at a seven year old, and assault and battery charges for an altercation involving his ex-girlfriend and her mother. In total he has more than 20 criminal cases beginning in 1997. When asked about his time in the prison system, Bergin said “it became a home to me. I’m not that person anymore.”
While I’d love to believe in redemption and I do understand there is more than one side to every story, it’s difficult to ignore such an expansive rap sheet that includes more than one life-long restraining order. Admittedly those restraining orders were granted three years ago in 2012 but the recipients claim they still live in fear of Bergin to this day.
Melanie and Donna Philbrook called police on Michael in September of 2010 because of his erratic behavior and aggression. Donna alleges that he grabbed her by her hair and threw her to the floor at one point during the altercation. Though he was arrested, he returned to Philbrook’s apartment and kicked in the door in an effort to retrieve his belongings. Even after the restraining order was put in place he reportedly made phone threats against the mother and daughter. In July 2012 Bergin plead guilty to two counts of assault and battery and received only six months in jail.
This is following an 18 month sentence in 2004 for throwing a phone at Melanie’s then 7 year old niece, Mackenzie Murtagh, who threatened to call the police on the man if he didn’t stop assaulting her aunt.
The Philbrooks and Murtagh have come out to openly criticize the media attention Bertin and Foster have garnered for their viral video in light of their experiences with Bertin. Melanie had especially strong words to say:
“My mother and I are quite disgusted that Mr. Bergin is getting all types of air time and financial endorsements and that there was no research done on his background prior to them airing and glorifying his verbiage– which was disgusting. It’s all over the internet and he’s been on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ while me and my mother are afraid for our live and have been for years.”
Melanie’s niece has said the attention Bergin is receiving makes her sick and she felt like vomiting when he appeared on TV. Donna Philbrook reportedly cried hysterically when she saw Michael Bergin on one of her favorite television programs.
Of course my sympathies go out to these women for having to relive terrible experiences in their lives- but I also can’t help but be slightly wary as well. If I was in their position I’d want the world to know about Bertin’s past, too- but there’s a bad flavor in my mouth when I think this may also be a ploy for revenge. It must be truly sickening to see your assailant become a beloved media darling, if only momentary. I just hope that these women are speaking out for the right reasons, not just to gain some fame of their own and to drudge up the past.
Michael Bertin Jr. should not have to pay for his past for the rest of his life, no- but has he truly repented? If you ask him, then yes, of course he has. But only time will tell if he truly has transformed his life from being the man he was before.
Do you think Bertin’s past should be considered by those offering him endorsements and media exposure? Let us know what you think!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.