CNA Staff, Aug 18, 2020 / 16:04 pm
A priest in the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio was arrested and charged with sex trafficking on Tuesday. The diocese has placed him on leave pending investigation.
Fr. Michael Zacharias, 53, was arrested August 18. He was charged with "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.
In a statement, the FBI said the priest "has engaged in sexual conduct with minors since the late 1990s." The bureau asked anyone who was groomed or assaulted by Zacharias to contact them.
Upon learning of the arrest, Bishop Daniel Thomas of Toledo placed Zacharias on immediate administrative leave. He may not exercise public priestly ministry or present himself as a priest while the claims are being investigated.