The Parents of Ohioans for Child Protection and local, national survivors of SNAP Network call on Ohio AG for a full investigation
For Immediate Release August 15, 2023
The parents of Ohioans for Child Protection and local, national survivors of SNAP Network and other concerned members of the community will be holding a press conference to publicly ask Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to conduct a statewide investigation of the history and scope of child sexual abuse, trafficking, child sex abuse enabling and cover up in Ohio’s 6 Dioceses.
--disclose the names of 49 catholic religious, with Ohio ties, named in the Pennsylvania Attorney General Report (2018), Baltimore Attorney General Report (2023), and Illinois Attorney General Report (2023)
--highlight 2 recent Ohio priests convicted of Federal Sex Trafficking
--highlight 3 recent Ohio priests convicted of sexual assault
--National leader and abuse survivor with SNAP Network will share the importance of statewide investigations to provide validation and justice to victims, inform the state’s leaders and the public, prevent further abuse by identifying predators and enablers
--Ohio Catholic Church abuse survivor shares her history of advocating for justice, accountability, and consequences
--Ohio parent shares how priest pedophile from her own parochial elementary school was moved through out southwestern Ohio and was running her children’s parochial school shortly before his arrest for child rape
--provide a press kit to media that attends the event
We will also
-- after the press conference walk our letter to Attorney General Yost requesting a statewide investigation and spreadsheet of those accused in the Illinois Report, Pennsylvania Report and Baltimore Report to Attorney General Yost’s Office at 30 East Broad St., Columbus, Ohio
--urge anyone with information about or suspicions of clergy sex crimes to “keep coming forward to police and prosecutors, not to church figures.”
In Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday, August 16th at 10 a.m. at the Ohio Statehouse Atrium, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus Ohio
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Ohioans for Child Protection
Greater Cincinnati Voice of the Faithful
---1) To ask Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to conduct a statewide investigation of the history and scope of child sexual abuse, trafficking, child sex abuse enabling and cover up in Ohio’s 6 Dioceses.
---2) In April 2023 the Attorney General of Maryland, Anthony Brown released his report on the systemic sexual abuse of children within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Within the Baltimore Report 13 Catholic Religious were accused with Ohio ties.
--- In May 2023 the Attorney General of Illinois, Kwame Raoul released his report on the systemic sexual abuse of children within the Dioceses of Illinois. Within the Illinois Report 25 Catholic Religious were accused with Ohio ties
--- In August 2018 the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro released his report on the systemic sexual abuse of children within the Dioceses of Pennsylvania (omitting Philadelphia and Pittsburg since those reports predate the 2018 report). Within the Pennsylvania Report 11 Catholic Religious were accused with Ohio ties
---3) Two Ohio Priests have recently been convicted of federal sex trafficking charges. Fr. Robert McWilliams (2021) and Fr. Mike Zacharius (2023). Both convictions indicate that despite public statements by church officials professing adequate safety reforms that child sex abuse is not a mistake of the past, but a current public safety issue.
--- Fr Mc Williams case background “Skutnik’s filing said McWilliams gathered a large collection of videos of children engaged in various types of sexual activity, forced teenage boys to provide him with sexually explicit images and paid two other youths in exchange for sexual acts.
She wrote that McWilliams “violated the sacrament of confession to obtain information he later used, under aliases, to seek the production of sexually explicit material from boys he was ‘counseling.’”
McWilliams was ordained in 2017 and began serving at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville. Prior to that, he had been a seminarian at St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Newbury Township in Geauga County, where he became active in a teen program.
Authorities began an investigation in October 2019, when two families from St. Helen’s filed a report detailing how their sons were extorted online for sexually explicit images of themselves. The sentencing brief said McWilliams played an active role in their sons’ lives by taking them to lunch, spending time with them and bringing them gifts.
Skutnik said Richard Warner, an investigator for the Geauga County prosecutor’s office, linked information from the youths’ phones to track text messages to McWilliams.”
“[McWilliams] was cunning, calculating and extremely cruel,” Skutnik wrote. “Only a sociopath could accept the hospitality of a family only to disappear into another room to transmit images of a victim to his mother so he could witness the pain inflicted upon his hosts.”
--- Fr. Mike Zacharius case background
“Zacharias was a priest at St. Michael’s in Findlay. He was arrested in August of 2020. Bishop Daniel Thomas placed him on administrative leave immediately after his arrest.
Prosecutors said Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct with minors since the late 1990s. According to court documents, Zacharias allegedly targeted two boys at Catholic schools in Toledo who had developed drug addictions, offering to pay them for sexual acts to help them purchase drugs.
The first victim was allegedly abused as a Catholic school student in Toledo while Zacharias was in seminary school, with Zacharias paying the victim so Zacharias could perform oral sex on him. The relationship continued through adulthood and through Zacharias moving to Van Wert, Fremont, and Findlay, including once when the victim was allegedly paid $1,500 for allowing Zacharias to perform oral sex at the rectory of a parish in Van Wert.
The victim also told the FBI he had visited Zacharias at the rectory in Findlay multiple times since Zacharias had moved from a parish in Fremont, describing in detail the interior of Zacharias’ bedroom and the rectory.
Zacharias and the victim made numerous videos, some depicting sex acts and others called “confession videos,” where Zacharias, dressed in his priest attire, confessed to grooming and performing oral sex on the victim. Those videos have been viewed by FBI agents, according to the complaint.”
Toledo, Ohio auxiliary Bishop Thomas is also named within pages 57-61 of the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report
---4) Three additional Ohio priests have been recently convicted of sexual assault
--- Fr. David Morrier background
“The indictment alleged Morrier, ordained into the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance in 1997, falsely represented to the woman that sexual conduct “was necessary for mental health treatment purposes” and described her as “substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.”
--- Fr Henry Foxhoven background
“According to an affidavit for the October 2018 arrest warrant of Foxhoven, the ex-priest had admitted to Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton that he had been “sexually involved with a juvenile member of his congregation and that she was now pregnant.”
The lawsuit states that Monforton was informed of an “open and obvious violation by third party observers and the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.”
--- Fr Geoff Drew background which began under Archbishop Pilarczyk and continued under Archbishop Schnurr through out the 2004 Hamilton County and Archdiocese of Cincinnati Plea Deal under Prosecutor Mike Allen, The Dallas Charter, 3 Butler County investigations under Prosecutor Mike Gmoser (2013, 2015 & 2018)
Late 1980s: A former grade school student at St. Jude in Bridgetown, where Drew was a music teacher, told prosecutors that Drew rubbed his shoulders and placed his hands under his shirt on more than one occasion. Another former student said he witnessed Drew touching the child. He said boys “never wanted to get caught alone with Drew” because he was “a creep.”
1988 or 1989: A former Elder High School student said Drew took some Elder boys on a trip to Chicago, where Drew allowed them to drink alcohol and order soft-core pornography on the TV in their hotel room. Prior to that, the former student said, Drew had touched boys in ways that were “unwanted and very upsetting.” Drew was a music teacher at Elder at the time.
Late 1980s and early 1990s: A priest said he witnessed Drew inappropriately touching young boys at St. Jude. He also said he received complaints from parishioners and church employees about Drew’s behavior around children. On one occasion, the priest said, he saw Drew get into a station wagon with four or five boys. When the priest asked what was going on, Drew said they were going on vacation together.
Around 1990: Paul Neyer, who was then a student at St. Jude, told his father, Dan, that Drew asked him if he was “sexually active.” Dan Neyer said he called Drew and the principal to complain, but he said he does not believe the school took any action. Church officials said they have no record of his complaint. Decades later, police arrested Drew for raping Paul, who said he didn’t tell his parents about being abused at St. Jude until after calling police in 2019.
1990: A former Elder student said Drew invited him to his home. The boy, then 14 or 15 years old, said he accepted because he believed other students would be there, but he soon realized he was alone with Drew, who asked him to sit on the couch with him in his basement. Feeling uncomfortable, the student said he called his grandfather to pick him up when Drew left the room.
1992 to 1993: Another priest said he observed Drew touching young boys in an inappropriate manner at St. Jude, putting his hands on boys’ shoulders and rubbing them. He said he approached Drew about “crossing boundaries,” but Drew rebuffed him.
Early 2000s: A man who attended St. Anthony in Madisonville said Drew befriended him when he was a teenager and invited him to tour the seminary with him. At the time, Drew was studying to become a priest and was interning at St. Anthony. While at the seminary, Drew brought the teenager to his private room. He said someone noticed them and refused to leave Drew’s doorway until Drew and the boy left. On other occasions, he said, Drew spoke to him inappropriately, offered him a massage and touched his shoulders and back in ways that were “upsetting and alarming.” An employee at St. Anthony also told prosecutors he saw Drew with the boy at the church and seminary.
2005 to 2006: After his ordination as a priest in 2004, Drew became pastor at St. Rita in Dayton. A former student at the school said 40 to 50 boys signed their names to a typed letter asking school officials to tell Drew to stop touching them. The former student said school officials ignored their complaints and made them apologize to Drew for “being ridiculous.”
2011: A former altar boy said Drew gave him unsolicited hugs on multiple occasions. On one such occasion, he said, Drew told the boy he had nice legs and should wear long pants because his legs were distracting.
2013 to 2015: Parishioners at St. Maximilian of Kolbe in Liberty Township complained on at least two occasions about Drew touching boys’ shoulders or legs. Church officials referred the complaints to Butler County prosecutors, who later determined no crimes were committed but recommended the archdiocese more closely monitor Drew.
July 2018: Drew left St. Maximilian to become pastor at St. Ignatius of Loyola in Green Township. The archdiocese did not tell St. Ignatius parishioners about the complaints at St. Maximilian.
October 2018: The archdiocese received a letter from a St. Ignatius parishioner relating a family member’s experience with Drew years earlier, when he was a student at Elder. The former student said Drew touched his leg and made him uncomfortable. The archdiocese forwarded the complaint to prosecutors, who again determined no crimes were committed.
---5) Finally, SNAP is begging anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered crimes or cover-ups in Ohio to contact independent sources of help like therapists, police, prosecutors, or support groups – not church officials.
Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814) 341-8386, [email protected]
Mike McDonnell, SNAP, Interim Executive Director
(267)-261-0578, [email protected])
Rebecca Surendorff, Co-Chair Ohioans for Child Protection
(513) 348-6337, [email protected]
Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann, Co-Chair Ohioans for Child Protection
(513) 505-0512, [email protected]
Claudia Vercellotti, SNAP Leader, Toledo, Ohio
(419) 345-9291, [email protected]
Greater Cincinnati VOTF