Margaret “Marge” Graf – The Devil’s AdvocateNovember 10, 2023
A Roman Catholic priest received a life sentence Friday for his convictions on five counts related to sex-trafficking charges in the molestation of three boys who prosecutors say he met at an Ohio preschool and coerced to continue sexual activity as adults.
Rev. Michael Zacharias, 56, received concurrent life sentences for counts of sex trafficking a minor and sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud, or coercion. He received concurrent 20-year sentences for two counts of sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud, or coercion and one of similarly trafficking a minor.
“Michael Zacharias used his position as a trusted spiritual leader and role model for young boys and their families to exploit them in the most insidious ways, coercing his victims from childhood and beyond to engage in commercial sex with him,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a release.
Prosecutors have said Zacharias “paid the victims to engage in sex acts with him using the victims’ fear of serious harm to compel their compliance.” They also said the three victims were developing serious drug addictions and the priest “waited to propose commercial sex” until they were heavily involved in drug abuse.
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