TOLEDO, Ohio –A minister who promised a woman he’d take care of her daughter began having sex with the teenager daily and later encouraged two other pastors to have sex with her as well, federal prosecutors said Monday.
Anthony Haynes could face up to life in prison if he’s convicted of child sex trafficking and other charges. The two other Toledo-area pastors charged in the investigation have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors said during the opening of Haynes’ trial that he first had sex with the girl when she was 14. They said the evidence against him includes text messages, photos, voice mails and DNA evidence from his church where the girl said they often had sex.
Haynes’ attorney told jurors that the allegations are shocking, but there’s not enough evidence to prove the trafficking and conspiracy charges he faces.
Attorney Pete Wagner also said Haynes may have had a questionable relationship with the girl, but he didn’t coordinate or take part in trafficking her to the other ministers. He also said there was no paying for sex.
Prosecutors say the girl had a difficult childhood and was sexually abused by a relative.
Haynes pledged in front of his congregation to protect her and serve as a father figure, but he began grooming her for sex when she turned 14 and first forced her to perform sex acts in front of him, said Michael Freeman, an assistant U.S. attorney.
They had sex day after day, often at a motel or his church, the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo, and Haynes would give her cash, Freeman said.
After about a year, Haynes introduced her to Kenneth Butler, another pastor, and he also began having sex with her, Freeman said.
Sometimes, the two men joked about the arrangement, prosecutors said. One text shown in court that prosecutors say was sent by Butler to the girl said: “You better be nice and naked when I get there.”
Prosecutors said the girl next met Cordell Jenkins, a minister who founded his own church in Toledo and built a large following until it closed after his arrest.
The FBI has said in court documents that Jenkins had sex with two girls at his home, church office and a motel and often recorded the acts with his phone.
Haynes, prosecutors said, encouraged the relationship with Jenkins.
In addition to the charges against the men, Haynes’ wife and stepdaughter are accused of abducting the girl at gunpoint in January and warning her not to testify at his trial.
Court documents say the pair forced the teenager from her apartment, choked her with a cord and told her to take back statements she made to investigators. Attorneys for Haynes’ wife and stepdaughter have declined to comment.
Just before her husband went on trial, his wife appeared Monday in the same courtroom where the judge overseeing the case turned down her request to be released.