August 18, 2020
By Kate Briquelet
A Catholic priest in Ohio was arrested Tuesday for child sex trafficking and is accused of grooming and abusing at least two victims since the ’90s.
The FBI cuffed Michael Zacharias, 53, after morning Mass at St. Michael the Archangel in Findlay. The pastor is charged with coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor, and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion. According to the feds, Zacharias was taken into custody without incident at his residence.
Court filings describe how Zacharias preyed on two vulnerable boys and continued abusing them after they became adults by taking advantage of their struggles with addiction. One of the victim’s drug problems “stemmed from his confusion about his sexuality based on years of inappropriate touching by Zacharias,” an FBI agent noted in an affidavit.
Some evidence in the case even includes sickening videos Zacharias created with one of the victims, who kept the footage on a USB drive. “The great thing for you is that I actually paid you to make the videos and that you will one day ruin me with them and get rich,” Zacharias texted the victim in late July, according to an FBI affidavit.
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