FINDLAY, Ohio (ChurchMilitant.com) - Current charges of homosexual predation against an Ohio priest is proving the clerical sex abuse crisis is not over.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is charging Fr. Michael Zacharias, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel parish in Findlay, Ohio with sexually assaulting minors and adults as recently as last month. The priest was arrested by the Northwest Ohio Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force on Tuesday after the priest offered the 7 a.m. Mass at his parish.
Zacharias is the 11th priest this year to be arrested for sex abuse, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Commenting on this point, SNAP's executive director Zach Hiner said two things are clear: "First, the clergy abuse scandal is neither over nor a thing of the past, as Catholic officials are wont to argue. Second, internal controls and policies do not do enough to prevent dangerous men from becoming clerics and cannot stop those men from abusing others with their newfound power."
The 53-year-old priest was ordained in 2002 by Toledo's late bishop, James Hoffman. But the FBI's complaint, filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, states Zacharias had engaged in ongoing homosexual conduct with at least two males beginning when they were minors in the late 1990s.
The priest allegedly paid the male victims money for years in order to support their drug habits in exchange for being allowed to perform oral sex on them. The FBI stumbled onto the sex abuse claims against the priest while investigating one of the alleged victims for drug abuse.
According to the FBI's complaint, an examination of one victim's phone "revealed sexual conversations" between the victim and the accused, including a "Fr.Z" recording as recently as July.
"Victim #1 revealed that 'Fr.Z' refers to Fr. Zacharias, a priest, and that Zacharias had molested and raped him as a child. Victim #1 stated that Zacharias paid him in exchange for being able to perform oral sex on Victim #1 when Victim #1 was a minor," according to the complaint.
The complaint leading to Zacharias' arrest added that the priest kept up his immoral communication with the victim via phone and text messages. The victim explained to the FBI that he was in sixth grade at a Toledo Catholic school when he met Zacharias, who at the time was a seminarian.
Two videos the victim turned over to the FBI show Zacharias not only confessing to the ongoing abuse, in a so-called confession video, but also show him performing oral sex on the victim in what's called an "action video," according to the complaint.
The complaint further elaborates, "The action video ... depicts Zacharias performing oral sex on Victim #1. ... The confession video ... depicts Zacharias in his clergy attire," confessing to homosexually lusting after the sixth-grade boy while Zacharias was a seminarian and the boy was then enrolled at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Toledo.
The priest was immediately put on administrative leave by Toledo's bishop, Daniel Thomas. In a statement, Thomas expressed his profound shock and grief after learning of the charges.
Zacharias' homosexual predation conforms to a 2017 report published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which confirms that the clerical sex abuse scandal is a crisis not of pedophilia but one that stems from homosexual abuse of male victims.
According to the report, "Eighty-one percent of the victims were male," and when the age of the victim was determined, only "one in 10 were under age 10." The report further confirmed that these findings were "similar to those reported for the year 2015."