A third Ohio pastor has been indicted on charges of sex-trafficking a minor, and now all three men face new charges in the case after a federal grand jury indicted the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, the Rev. Anthony Haynes and the Rev. Kenneth Butler on conspiracy to sex-traffic children.
According to the Associated Press, all three men pleaded not guilty Tuesday.
The U.S. attorney’s office says that Haynes began grooming a 14-year-old girl for prostitution back in 2014. Haynes then introduced her to other men. All three of the pastors sexually assaulted the child, authorities said.
Jenkins and Haynes were arrested by FBI agents earlier this year and were initially accused of knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person under the age of 18 for sex trafficking.
An affidavit indicated that Haynes engaged in sex acts on multiple occasions with a then-14-year-old girl, recording some of the encounters and then paying the teen to remain silent, telling her that she could ruin his family and his church. Haynes then allegedly introduced the girl to other men, including Jenkins, who also paid the girl to have sex, officials say.
Jenkins is also accused of paying for sex acts with another underage girl.
Butler is charged with trafficking a third underage girl between 2015 and March of 2017. That girl told investigators that she met Butler at Haynes’ church when she was 15 and that he would give her rides to his church in the Detroit area. The girl told authorities that she had sex with Butler in his car twice and that he later gave her money. He allegedly later told her to lie to the FBI if she was questioned about him.
“These three men violated the trust of these children and the communities they purported to serve,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said in a news release, according to the Toledo Blade. “We are grateful for the courage of the victims and the dedication of our law-enforcement personnel in bringing these men to justice.”
Both Haynes and Butler are also facing charges of obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation. Haynes is accused of attempting to destroy electronic evidence of sex trafficking, while Butler is accused of instructing another individual to lie and then lying himself to law enforcement about his involvement.
Butler, who was not part of the original indictment, was also indicted on two counts of sex-trafficking children and one count of obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation.
If convicted, prosecutors would recommend life in prison, Michael Freeman, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the Blade.