FINDLAY — Federal officials arrested the pastor of the Catholic church in Findlay on Tuesday morning on federal sex trafficking charges. He previously served as pastor at a church in Van Wert.
The Rev. Michael Zacharias, 53, of Findlay, faces federal charges of coercion and enticement, sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud or coercion, according to the Cleveland Division of the FBI-Lima Resident Agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office-Northern District of Ohio. Zacharias was taken into custody Tuesday morning without incident at his residence by the Northwest Ohio Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.
Zacharias has been pastor at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Findlay, since 2017. A video on the church’s Facebook page shows Zacharias saying Mass on Tuesday morning prior to his arrest.
He served as pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Van Wert from 2007 through 2011.
According to the federal complaint, investigators believe Zacharias had engaged in sexual conduct since the late 1990s. The FBI encouraged anyone who believe they were “groomed” for possible future sexual purposes, inappropriately touched or sexually assaulted by Zacharias to contact the FBI at 216-622-6842. All information will be strictly confidential, according to the FBI.
Zacharias, a native of Elyria, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Toledo in 2002. In addition to Van Wert and Findlay, he also served at parishes in Mansfield and Fremont.
Read more about this story in Wednesday’s The Lima News.
Rev. Michael Zacharias