Trial vs. priest for sex trafficking starts Monday
(For Immediate Release April 28, 2023)
A Toledo area Catholic priest facing multiple charges of sex trafficking goes on trial Monday.
According to the FBI, in 2015, Fr. Michael J. Zacharias allegedly "manipulated and coerced drug-addicted boys and men into sex."
The priest allegedly "admits to first meeting the victim when he was a seminarian and the boy was in 6th grade St. Catherine's in Toledo. The boy became drug-addicted as a teen, and Fr. Zacharias offered him money for sex to feed his habit. A second young man told the FBI he met Fr. Zacharias in first grade at St. Catherine's and that the priest began sexually abusing him as a teen when he was in addiction to drugs. Zacharias was placed on leave by the Diocese," according to news accounts and BishopAccountability.org
"We should all be grateful to the brave men who are helping law enforcement pursue a serial criminal," said Claudia Vercellotti of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "I'm worried though that gullible and misled church members may show up in court to support Fr. Zacharias and unwittingly rub even more salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of his courageous victims."
One of the priest's defense lawyers is John Thebes who represented a notorious Toledo priest, Fr. Gerald Robinson who was convicted of murdering a nun.
Jury selection is set for Monday at the James M. Ashley and Thomas W. L. Ashley U.S. Courthouse, 1716 Spielbusch Avenue in Toledo (419 213 5500). Presiding will be Judge Jack Zouhary ([email protected])
Fr. Zacharias was ordained in 2002 and was arrested in 2020.
FOR MORE INFO: Claudia Vercellotti of SNAP, 419 345 9291 Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communication, 267 267 0578