Toledo, Ohio Reverands Cordell Jenkins, Anthony Haynes and Kenneth Butler all face federal charges of conspiracy to sex-traffic children.
Channel 19 News in Cleveland reported that all three men have pleaded not guilty on November 14th.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Reverand Haynes started grooming a 14-year-old girl for prostitution back in 2014 and then introduced her to Reverand Jenkins and Butler. Authorities stated, all three then sexually assaulted the girl.
Earlier this year the FBI arrested Jenkins and Butler and they were accused of knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person under the age of 18 for sex trafficking.
In an affidavit, it was reported that Haynes engaged in sex acts on multiple occasions with a then-14-year-old girl and that he also recorded some of the encounters. He reportedly paid the girl to remain quiet in fear that anyone finding out would ruin his reputation in the church and with his family. He then introduced the underaged girl to other men, one of which was Jenkins, and they also paid to have sex with her.
Jenkins is charged with paying another underage girl for sex as well.
Reverand Butler is charged with trafficking a third underage girl between 2015 and 2017. Investigators found out from the girl that she had met Butler at Haynes’ church when she was 15. Butler would regularly give her rides to his church and she states she had sex twice with him in his car. She was paid later and told by Butler to lie about him if she was questioned by the FBI.
According to the Toledo Blade, U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said in a news release, “These three men violated the trust of these children and the communities they purported to serve. We are grateful for the courage of the victims and the dedication of our law-enforcement personnel in bringing these men to justice.”
Additionally, Haynes and Butler are both facing charges of obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation. Butler is accused of telling another individual to lie and then lying himself to law enforcement about his involvement and Haynes is accused of trying to destroy electronic evidence of sex trafficking.
Although not part of the original indictment, Butler has also been indicted on one count of obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation and two counts of sex-trafficking children.
According to Michael Freeman, an assistant U.S. attorney, If convicted, prosecutors would recommend life in prison for all three men.