A federal grand jury in Toledo, Ohio indicted a third pastor on child sex trafficking charges, alleging that the trio of Ohio ministers enticed underaged girls to have sex for money, WOIO-TV reported.
The US Attorney’s Office said the Rev. Anthony Haynes, 38, started grooming a 14-year-old victim in 2014 for prostitution and introduced the girl to other men, adding that all three of the pastors sexually assaulted her, according to the Associated Press. The pastors all pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
The three men faced a federal judge together for the first time on Tuesday. This third indictment came against the Rev. Kenneth Butler. Indictments on the same charges against Haynes and the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, 47, were handed down in July. Federal prosecutors combined the cases into one group of charges to facilitate the proceedings. The clergymen, who allegedly had sex with young girls at their churches and at hotels, are also accused of producing child pornography, WTOL-TV reported. The 14-year-old, allegedly groomed by Hayes, said she had sex with Butler, 37, in his car twice in exchange for money, and he told her to lie if investigators questioned her, according to the Toledo Blade.They face life in prison if found guilty of the federal charges.
If the ministers turn down a plea deal, then the government will likely prosecute the cases individually, WTOL-TV said. Jenkins’ attorney, Lorin Zaner, said she’s trying to keep her client and his family “upbeat” at this difficult time, adding that he has never been in legal trouble in the past, which makes this situation difficult, the news outlet stated. All three pastors are expected to appear in court in January for a follow-up hearing on how the proceedings will unfold. In the meantime, they remain behind bars.