Not a Drag Queen
Toledo Ohio Priest Michael J. Zacharias, 56, appeared in federal court Friday afternoon, where a judge sentenced him to life in prison on two counts of sex trafficking of a minor. He was also sentenced to 20 years on three additional sex trafficking charges. These sentences will run concurrently.
Witnesses during Zacharias’ trial laid out how he began grooming the boys during his time at St. Catherine’s, gaining their trust as a father figure when they were as young as 11 years old. Those witnesses said the priest preyed on the boys as some of they developed drug habits, paying them thousands of dollars in exchange for allowing him to perform oral sex on them. Some of the victims said they needed the money to support opioid habits. All of them said they submitted because they did not want to lose him as a father figure or feared losing their connection to the church. The offenses spanned 15 years, from July 2005 to August 2020.
Judge Zouhary said that Zacharias paid one victim more than $26,000 for sex and to maintain his silence. Another victim was paid more than $21,000. At points in the relationship, Zacharias made confession videos and in some cases had the boys beat him with a belt.
✱ The priest said the sex was consensual and that the victims extorted him.
✱ The priest said he has a clear consciousness before God.
✱ Said: “I pray this doesn’t cause anyone to question their faith in God.”
Bishop Thomas said the Toledo diocese, in accord with canon (church) law, has requested the imposition of the penalty of direct dismissal of the clerical state, which would return Zacharias to lay state.
“We are awaiting the response,” Thomas said. “With this sentencing and as we await a decision from the Holy See, it is my hope and prayer that healing may continue and justice be restored, as we remain vigilant in confronting evil.”