Pastor Kenneth Butler plead guilty to multiple counts of child sex trafficking last month. He was sentenced to nearly 18 years in prison for his role in sexually assaulting multiple underage girls, including one who was a foster child and a previous victim of sexual abuse.
Pastor’s Butler, Anthony Haynes and Cordell Jenkins of Toledo, Ohio were charged in the case. The three pastors reportedly swapped young girls between each other, raping them, then discussing how much fun they had.
The two other pastors involved in the trafficking ring plead not guilty, requesting a jury trial. Both of the other men were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Anthony Haynes, the former leader of Greater Life Christian Center, was one of those pastors. And during his recent sentencing hearing, he urged the judge to “have mercy on him because he’s really a decent guy. And isn’t the two years he spent away from his family, including his five kids, punishment enough?” LOL
The judge didn’t fall for Haynes’ ploy!
“I don’t deserve life. I don’t deserve life,” Haynes said during a sermon-like speech. “Like I said, I’ve been doing life for 27 months while I’ve been away from my children and this hurts … my need today is for you to have mercy on Anthony Haynes.”
While Judge Bernard Friedman said he felt sympathy for Haynes’ five children, they were not the ones who committed the crimes. The judge said he didn’t even think such a case could exist because of the “disgusting, horrible” things that occurred, additionally, Haynes displayed a lack of remorse.
One of the girls he raped had moved in with Haynes’ family as a foster child. Haynes later offered her body up to his pastor buddies. (The girl, who was 14 at the time, is 19 now and she testified at his trial.)
I don’t feel bad for his family, either. They helped cover up his crimes and went to criminal lengths to prevent justice for the victims.
Haynes’ wife and stepdaughter, Alisa Haynes and Alexis Fortune, are accused of kidnapping and threatening the girl to not testify in the trial against Haynes. Their case is still pending.
Haynes’ says he will appeal his sentencing.
Cordell Jenkins, the former leader of Abundant Life Ministries, looked to members of his family and mouthed an apology as he was sentenced to life in prison for two counts of sex trafficking children and one count of sexual exploitation of children for having sex with the girl at his church, his home, and hotels. He later had a threesome with the girl and one of her teenage friends at a hotel.
Judge Zouhary asked Butler and Jenkins during their separate hearings how, as pastors, they came to allow these horrific incidents to happen. Neither Butler nor Jenkins answered the judge’s question.
“The reason why this case has shook the community to its core is the outright abuse of trust. We trust people with our teachers, with ministers, with clergymen, and women. When they abuse that trust, it calls into question in every parent’s mind who they can trust their children with,” Mr. Freeman said during sentencing for Jenkins.
Jenkins failed to take responsibility for his actions in the case, claiming he believed the victim was an adult. Additionally, he claims he thought the victim’s friend was also an adult. However, he paid the victims following the sexual acts with funds from his church, Abundant Life Ministries.
“There is never a time that I would set out intentionally, deliberately, or desire ever to have any type of relationship other than to love and nurture a minor. Ever. Ever, your Honor,” Jenkins pleaded.
Sentencing guidelines confirmed Jenkins should be sentenced to life in prison, though defense attorney Lorin Zaner requested a lesser sentence than Butler had received. The defense claimed Butler had sex with the girl and knew she was under 18 — and that was worse than what Jenkins did, he said.
“Reviewing what the government has argued in this case, they state that Mr. Jenkins used his position as a pastor to prey on minors. There’s no evidence of that and if anything evidence would demonstrate that there’s no other evidence that he’s been involved with minors and in fact, he should have known better, but he did not go out seeking to have relationships with minors,” Mr. Zaner said.
In a lengthy sermon-like speech to Judge Zouhary, Jenkins maintained that he preached God’s word and loved God’s people, but the “pressures of leading the ministry” led him to a life of adultery. He said his actions led to the destruction of his marriage, the loss of their home, and his wife to lose her job.
The victim sat straight-faced looking at Jenkins while he cried during his apology to her and his family.
“I wake up asking myself out of all of the success that you had, how did it end up here? I apologize to the victims, I’m so very sorry. I’m so very sorry. There is never a day, there was never a time in my life that I would seek out to hurt, to destroy, to cause pain, ever in life. I’ve never done that in the 20 plus years that I’ve been pastor,” Jenkins said as he wept.
However, text messages between Jenkins and the victim, as well as him knowing the victim and her friend were taking the ACT test, proved he knew they were underage. Additionally, the victim attended Jenkins’ church with her guardian, Judge Zouhary noted.
“I have to tell you Mr. Jenkins, I still think you don’t get it. I don’t think you understand the full import of your conduct, based not only on the statements you made, with respect of acceptance of responsibility … you seem to highlight the fact that you understand that you had some marital infidelity here, but that’s not why you’re here today. You continue to defend your position by indicating that you did not know these were minors. To be frank, I disbelieve you. You had to know these were minors,” Judge Zouhary said.
“How dare you come in here today at this late stage in the case and continue to defend yourself in front of everyone in front of this courtroom,” the judge added. “I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. Not for a moment.”
In contrast, Butler, 39, who was a pastor at Detroit-based Kingdom Encounter Family Worship Center, was a bit more forthcoming about his actions and even snitched on his co-defendants, prosecutors said.
Judge Zouhary sentenced Kenneth Butler to on an agreed-upon 17½ years in prison for conspiracy to sex traffic children, obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation, and two counts of sex trafficking children. He had faced up to life in prison.
During Butler’s sentencing hearing, defense attorney Adam Nightingale asked Judge Zouhary to consider Butler’s history, characteristics, and circumstances of the offense. “Butler suffered a downward spiral of depression after the death of his first wife when Haynes came into his client’s life,” Mr. Nightingale said. Butler relied on Haynes for emotional support and Haynes “repaid that trust by bringing Ken into his dark world,” Mr. Nightingale said.
The defense said those are not excuses for his client’s actions, but it may provide some insight into how someone who previously lived a moral and law-abiding life became involved in such a situation.
Prosecutors said Butler was the least culpable in the sex-trafficking ring.
“I think all parties would agree Anthony Haynes is the most culpable. He’s the one who took in the victim when she was 14, who started this saga for her that lasted three years. I think the significant difference in terms of culpability is the way they treated the victim. Cordell Jenkins was … aggressively predatory … which is absent with Mr. Butler. In addition, Cordell Jenkins pled guilty to child pornography — Mr. Butler did not do that,” Mr. Freeman said.
Butler entered a guilty plea a year ago, and the judge said he hasn’t spoken with the defendant since that time. Judge Zouhary asked what Butler had to think about during that time period.
Butler paused, then chuckled and said,
“Honestly, there’s a lot. I would say but I’ll just simplify it by saying how apologetic that I am not only to the victim, but my family, my friends, as well as the courts,” Butler said, adding his actions do not reflect the true person he is or how his mother raised him.
While the judge recognized some tragedy struck Butler’s life, Judge Zouhary said he had plenty of advantages and that he knew the difference between right and wrong. As a preacher, Butler presumably had the word of God to help him and others handle situations.
“Again, I find it hard to understand how someone like you could do something as awful as this,” Judge Zouhary said.
Butler testified during Haynes’ trial that he met Haynes and the teenage girl in order to have a threesome at Greater Life Christian Center, Haynes’ church. Investigators said both men’s sperm was found on a carpet sample from the church.
Butler also said he had sex with the girl at a hotel and also provided her money, and said he knew the victim was under 18. The victim stood with her arms crossed as she watched Butler being taken out of the federal courtroom in shackles.
Haynes, was found guilty by a federal jury of conspiracy to engage in sex-trafficking of minor, sex-trafficking of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, and obstructing a sex-trafficking investigation. He faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison. He will be sentenced June 17.
Jenkins’ ex-wife, Laura Lloyd-Jenkins, was convicted for obstructing a sex-trafficking investigation. She was sentenced to 21 months in jail.
The victim in the case has since received her cosmetology license and is now studying social work.
It’s time we #WakeUp and realize that these Pastors, Preachers and Priests are the evil doers in our communities.
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