Ohio pastor pleads guilty to sex trafficking teen girls
Toledo, Ohio – A second of three Ohio ministers accused of enticing teen girls to have sex with them pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges that include child sex trafficking.
Cordell Jenkins pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. Another minister has already pleaded guilty, and the third is scheduled to go on trial next week.
Federal authorities say the men, who operated their own churches in the Toledo-area, paid teen girls for sex over several years and shared photos and videos of the girls.
Court documents have referenced three victims, the youngest being 14.
Jenkins was accused of having sex with two girls, one of whom attended his church, according to an FBI agent.
He had sex with the girls at his home, church office and a motel and often recorded the acts with his phone, authorities said in court documents.
Jenkins’ plea agreement did not include a negotiated sentence. His attorney declined comment, citing a court-imposed gag order.
Jenkins, who followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a preacher, built a large following and founded his own church that closed after his arrest.
Prosecutors have said Jenkins met one of the girls through Anthony Haynes, a former minister scheduled to go on trial next week.
Haynes began pursuing and grooming the 14-year-old girl in 2014 and gave her money for sex, according to court documents. He also warned her not to say anything because it would ruin his family and his church, according to investigators.
His attorneys also have declined to comment.
Earlier this month, his wife and stepdaughter were arrested after federal authorities said they abducted one of the victims at gunpoint on Jan. 5 and warned her not to testify at his trial.
Court documents say the pair forced the teen from her apartment, choked her with a cord and told her to take back statements she made to investigators. Attorneys for the pair declined to comment.
The first pastor to plead guilty in the investigation, Kenneth Butler, acknowledged in court last May that he had sex with two minors.
Butler pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking along with a related conspiracy charge and obstructing a sex trafficking investigation. He’s expected to face 17 years in prison.