Toledo Priest Convicted on Three Counts of Sex Trafficking
A priest who worked in Ohio's northwest side has been convicted on federal sex trafficking charges. We are grateful to the brave victims in this case and know that without their courage and constancy that this dangerous predator would still have access to children.
Fr. Michael Zacharias was found guilty on five charges related to abuse perpetrated against three victims that he met as a seminarian and later a parish priest. Based on his pattern of behavior, it is clear that Fr. Zacharias was bound to create victims wherever he went. It is clear to us that church officials in Toledo must do everything in their power to bring other victims forward and ensure parents, parishioners, and the public in every location where Zacharias worked is aware of the crimes he has been convicted of.
This federal case is proof positive that victims can heal and do not have to suffer in shame and secrecy. The courage of the victims and their families helped bring a serial predator to justice and end his decades long crime spree. Thanks to the justice that was administered by the courts, Fr. Zacharias will never be able to hurt another child.
It is notable that Fr. Zacharias' crimes all occurred shortly before, during, and after the US Bishops convened in Dallas to pledge openness, honesty, and transparency via the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. As myriad cases over the past twenty years has demonstrated, this charter did little to stop contemporaneous abuse, and nothing to address the core fault-lines in the institutional church that have made secrecy and cover-up the norm.
We are thankful for the federal prosecutors and their teams. Their courage to take on this case and fight for justice on behalf of these survivors helps mete out vicarious justice for all victims who will never get their day in court. We are grateful for their work and for their success in securing this important conviction.
(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)