TOLEDO, Ohio — Two ministers from Ohio have been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) on alleged sex trafficking charges.
Cordell Jenkins, 46, who leads Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo, was taken into custody on Friday, along with Anthony Haynes, 37, who oversees Greater Life Christian Center, also in Toledo.
“Jenkins and Haynes are accused of knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person(s) that the defendants knew was less than eighteen years old to engage in commercial sex acts,” the FBI outlined in an official statement. “In addition to the above, Haynes is also being charged with obstruction of justice and Jenkins is being charged with sexual exploitation of children.”
According to police documents, Hayes is accused of engaging in sexual relations with a then 14-year-old girl beginning in 2014.
“Additionally, he coerced [the teen] into continued secrecy by implying revealing the sexual activity between them would ruin his family and church,” the federal complaint reads.
Hayes also introduced the girl to other men, including Jenkins, who is accused of having sexual relations with the teenager in his office at Abundant Life Ministries.
A local Red Roof Inn has additionally confirmed that Jenkins rented a room with the teenager twice, including one time when the girl says that he asked her to bring a friend. She and her friend were paid for the encounters.
According to local television station WNWO, investigators looked through the teenager’s phone and discovered that she had been encouraged to send photographs and videos of herself, some without her clothes on. It was likewise found that some of the sexual encounters had been recorded.
“Any crime that involves a child, exploiting a child, seizing on their vulnerabilities, on their trust that they have in adults, especially when people are in a position of trust,” FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson told NBC 24.
Hayes and Jenkins appeared in court on Friday, where Magistrate Judge James Knepp ordered that they be held without bond until a hearing on Thursday, April 13.
As previously reported, last month, a teenager in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against a local motel out of her belief that employees knew she was being exploited for sex trafficking but did nothing.
The now-17-year-old, only identified as M.B., was allegedly held at Roosevelt Inn by her captors, sometimes months at a time, and was not allowed to leave. She was instead forced to have sex with men “double, triple and quadruple her age,” and estimates having relations with 1,000 men.
Inn Manager Yagna Patel contends that he was unaware that any such activity was taking place.
“We just rent the room and that’s all we can do,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “If we think a lot of people are having a party in the room, we kick them out.”
M.B.’s captors were arrested and sentenced to prison.