Ohio Priest Arrested on Multiple Federal Charges, SNAP Calls for Outreach

A priest in Ohio has been arrested on multiple federal charges including the sex trafficking of minors. These are serious charges that demand significant outreach efforts by Catholic officials in the Diocese of Toledo.

According to the FBI, Fr. Michael Zacharias has been sexually abusing children “since the late 1990s,” just a few years before he was ordained a priest. Given what we know about how abusers seek opportunities to perpetrate their crimes, we cannot help but wonder if Fr. Zacharias joined the priesthood in order to gain access to children. The disturbing allegation that Fr. Zacharias abused before his ordination, plus the fact that the clergyman faces multiple charges including coercion, enticement, and the sex trafficking of both minors and adults, makes us concerned that there are other victims in Ohio who have yet to come forward. Only 1 in 9 cases of child sexual abuse get reported while the abuse is ongoing so there is a clear need to do outreach.

By our count, this is the 11th arrest of an active priest this year, which makes two things plain: first, the clergy abuse scandal is neither over nor a thing of the past, as Catholic officials are wont to argue. Second, internal controls and policies do not do enough to prevent dangerous men from becoming clerics and cannot stop those men from abusing others with their newfound power. Clearly there is a need for a complete overhaul of how the Church handles this issue and we believe it starts with complete transparency being forced on these institutions by outside, secular investigations.

Fr. Zacharias worked in multiple communities, including Mansfield, Van Wert, Findlay, and Fremont. We call on Bishop Daniel Thomas to personally visit each and every parish where Fr. Zacharias worked, detailing the charges against him and encouraging others who may have been hurt by him or witnessed his misdeeds to make a report to both the FBI and local law enforcement. Bishop Thomas should also use parish bulletins and his diocesan website to signal boost this information and to share contact information for law enforcement agencies.

Fr. Zacharias' work history is below:

Rev. Michael J. Zacharias

Diocese of Toledo

Ordained:  2002

1999 (Pre-Ordination)

St. Catherine’s, Toledo - where three victims came forward.

2003 (2001-2003) 

St. Peter’s in Mansfield - Very Rev. Herbert F. Weber; Revs. Michael J. Zacharias; Vicente Antonio Vera (Philippines)

2004 (2003-2004) 

St. Peter’s in Mansfield - Very Rev. Herbert F. Weber; Revs. Michael J. Zacharias; Vicente Antonio Vera (Philippines)

2005 (2004-2005) 

St. Peter’s in Mansfield -Very Rev. Herbert F. Weber; Revs. Michael J. Zacharias; Deacons James Marshall; Terry B. Philpott; Larry J. Wilson.

2006 (2005-2006) 

St. Peter’s in Mansfield - Revs. Anthony A. Borgia; Michael J. Zacharias; Gerald E. Knueven; Sr. Angela Hoffman, C.PP.S., Pastoral Assoc.; Deacons James Marshall; Terry B. Philpott; Larry J. Wilson. In Res., Rev. John E. Brennan.

2007 (2006-2007)  

St. Peter’s in Mansfield - Revs. Anthony A. Borgia; Michael J. Zacharias; Gerald E. Knueven; Joven Malanyaon; Sr. Angela Hoffman, C.PP.S., Pastoral Associate; Deacons James Marshall; Terry B. Philpott; Larry J. Wilson; Sandy Lauer, Pastoral Assoc.; Sheila Hershiser, Youth Min. In Res., Rev. John E. Brennan.

2008 (2007-2008) 

St. Mary of the Assumption in Van Wert - Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Deacons Andrew McMahon; Norbert Reinhart; Edward Fox, Business Mgr.

2009 (2008-2009) 

St. Mary of the Assumption in Van Wert - Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Deacons Andrew McMahon; Edward Fox, Business Mgr. 

2010 (2009-2010) 

St. Mary of the Assumption in Van Wert - Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Deacons Andrew McMahon; Edward Fox, Business Mgr.

2011 (2010-2011)

St. Mary of the Assumption in Van Wert - Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Deacons Andrew McMahon; Edward Fox, Business Mgr.

2012 (2011-2012) 

St. Joseph in Fremont - Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Deacon Norbert A. Wethington; Thomas Mosser, Business Mgr. Nathan Herb, Music Dir.

2013 (2012-2013) 

St. Joseph in Fremont - Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Jacob A. Gordon; Deacon Melvin J. Shell.      

Chancery Position: College of Consultors.

2014 (2013-2014)

St. Joseph in Fremont - Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Jacob A. Gordon; Deacons Melvin J. Shell; Norb Wethington.    

Chancery Position: College of Consultors.

2015 (2014-2015) 

St. Joseph in Fremont - Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Eric L. Mueller; Deacon Melvin J. Shell.          

Chancery Position: College of Consultors.

2016 (2015-2016)

St. Joseph in Fremont - Very Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Rev. Nathan Bockrath, Parochial Vicar; Deacon Melvin J. Shell. 

St. Ann in Fremont - Very Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Rev. Nathan Bockrath, Parochial Vicar; Deacon James Heyman.

Chancery Positions: College of Consultors;  Dean of St. Philomena Deanery

2017 (2016-2017)

St. Joseph in Fremont - Very Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Rev. Nathan Bockrath, Parochial Vicar; Deacon Melvin J. Shell.

St. Ann in Fremont - Very Rev. Michael J. Zacharias; Rev. Nathan Bockrath, Parochial Vicar; Deacon James Heyman. 

Chancery Positions: College of Consultors; Dean of St. Philomena Deanery

2018 (2017-2018) 

St. Michael the Archangelin Findlay - Very Rev. Michael J. Zacharias, V.F.; Rev. Scott S. Woods, Parochial Vicar; Deacons David Sadler; Michael Eier; Armando Gonzalez; Keith J. Talbert. 

Chancery Positions: College of Consultors

2019 (2018-2019) 

St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay - Very Rev. Michael J. Zacharias, V.F.;  Rev. Kyle Gase; Deacons David Sadler; Michael Eier; Armando Gonzalez; Keith J. Talbert. 

Chancery Positions: College of Consultors

SourceOfficial Catholic Directory(New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 2003-2019)

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

CONTACT: Claudia Vercellotti, SNAP Toledo (ClaudiaYV@gmail.com, 419-345-9291), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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