Mayor says it's time to talk about sex abuse

Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn didn't mince words after learning of the arrest of the Rev. Michael Zacharias, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel parish, Findlay.

In a statement issued before noon Tuesday, the day of the arrest, Muryn said the Findlay Police Department will cooperate fully with the investigation.

“I am distraught by the news of the arrest of Father Michael Zacharias. These allegations are not taken lightly, and the Findlay Police Department and our community at large will support the full and thorough investigation by the FBI. Such abuse of power, and perversion of sexuality is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated by any organization, individual, or society," said Muryn.

As of Tuesday, Muryn said the city's police department was not involved in the investigation, and has no information that St. Michael's School or its students were involved.

Zacharias, 53, was taken into federal custody Tuesday from his home at 2008 Greendale Ave. by the Northwest Ohio Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. He made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Toledo on Tuesday. He is being held in federal custody without bail.

He is charged with sex offenses involving two former students of Catholic schools in Toledo over a period of years.

Zacharias was ordained as a priest in 2002, and named pastor of St. Michael's parish in 2017.

St. Michael parish officials said they have been assured by FBI agents that there is no evidence or allegation of victims in the Findlay parish and school community. However, in a press conference held Tuesday, agents said it's possible, and that there may be other victims.

Anyone who has had unwanted sexual contact or anyone who believes they have been solicited or groomed by Zacharias should contact the FBI at 216-622-6842.

“The most important thing our community can remember is that there will always be challenges, there will always be evil, but our community will always move forward if we come together," Muryn said.

In a column published in Friday's edition of The Courier, Muryn said the week has been tough: "I, like many of you, have so many questions, thoughts, emotions swirling through me. Making my stomach queasy, my blood boil and my heart break. ... How do we come together as a community to call this out, to change the world around us, to support each other? Rather than in anger, fear and hurt tear each other apart."

In the column, the mayor promised to "continue the conversation" in the weeks ahead.

"We are going to work to provide resources to guardians to have conversations with children. We are going to talk about how we change the world around us. And finally, we are going to heal," she said. "It is going to hurt, it is going to be uncomfortable, and it is going to be a long road. But the only thing that can drive out darkness is light. And so, we are going to be the light in a dark place."

On Friday, Muryn said for her, that means leading by example.

"Abuse is wrong. I want to lead by setting an example of what is right: inclusivity, respectful dialogue and loving your neig...

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