An Ohio priest, who was arrested in 2020, was discovered responsible by a federal jury of intercourse trafficking of a minor and now faces as much as life in jail.
Michael J. Zacharias, 56, of Findlay, Ohio, which is about 45 miles south of Toledo, was charged with 5 intercourse trafficking fees, together with of a minor and of an grownup by drive, fraud, coercion or enticement.
The Division of Justice mentioned Zacharias, a priest at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Findlay, Ohio, who was ordained in 2002, was convicted of trafficking three victims after they have been minors and adults.
The jury was offered proof in courtroom displaying how he met the victims after they have been younger. On the time, Zacharias was in Seminary college at St. Catherine’s Catholic Parish College in Toledo.
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A prison criticism mentioned investigators are conscious that his alleged sexual conduct with minors goes again to the late Nineteen Nineties.
Zacharias began grooming the victims for industrial intercourse acts after they have been younger, the DOJ mentioned, and used his place as a priest and trainer to combine himself into the boys’ lives as an individual of belief.
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Ultimately the victims gave into Zacharias and conversations turned sexual earlier than he grew to become sexual with the boys.
Additionally, throughout that point, all three boys developed addictions to opiates, beginning out first with ache drugs, then later, heroin.
Testimony offered by the victims through the trial confirmed how straightforward it was for them to undergo Zacharias. The boys feared dropping him as a father determine and good friend, but additionally feared dropping their connection to God and going by opioid withdrawal as a result of Zacharias was giving them cash to purchase medication.
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One of many victims testified that he was afraid Zacharias would sexually abuse his brother, who was not solely one of many victims but additionally a minor, and others if he didn’t adjust to the defendant’s calls for to supply sexual providers for cash.
“This defendant betrayed the victims in probably the most inhumane method,” Assistant Lawyer Basic Kristen Clarke of the Justice Division’s Civil Rights Division mentioned. “He robbed them of their childhood, their dignity and their religion. He inflicted merciless psychological hurt, preying on their fears and forcing them to decide on between submitting to industrial intercourse acts, or incurring the ache of dropping a father determine or counselor, struggling withdrawal illness, and risking sexual abuse of a cherished one.”
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A sentencing date has not been set for Zacharias, however in keeping with the DOJ, he faces a minimal of 15 years and a most of life in jail.