Ohio Priest Accused of Sex Trafficking Played Father Figure To Victims, Enabled Drug Addiction

International Business Times

October 26, 2020

By Suneeta Sunny

Michael Zacharias, 53, former Ohio priest who was arrested in August 2020, is facing a 10-count indictment with charges that include sex trafficking of minor, sex trafficking of an adult by fraud, and coercion. He has also been accused of sexually exploiting the minors by enabling their drug addiction.

A Federal Grand Jury in Cleveland on Friday handed down Michael, a 10- count indictment. Michael was arrested on Aug. 18, 2020 and has remained in Federal Custody since then. Michael has been accused of engaging in sexual acts and grooming of minors since late 1990s when he was enrolled as a seminarian.

According to the court documents, he continued to abuse victims while he served as a priest at various religious institutions in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere.

“This defendant is accused of using his status and position as a religious and community leader to seek out troubled minors and exploit their personal challenges for his own satisfaction,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said in the indictment. He added that the indictment is a step towards serving justice for the victims, families and community harmed by the defendant and his alleged acts.

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