A prominent Ohio pastor accused of of taking part in repeated sexual acts and the sex trafficking of a 14-year-old girl preached about the dangers of "church cover-ups" in a 2014 sermon.
"We have covered up so much in the church that it looks like it's righteous," the Rev. Anthony Haynes, 38, said during a sermon delivered at the Greater Life Christian Center in 2014. "We have covered up so much stuff in the church to where it looks like this is the right way to go. We have made it easy for folk to do things at church and everybody thinks it's OK."
The Toledo Blade reports that on Monday, Haynes and the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, 46, appeared in U.S. District Court for a brief arraignment hearing, less than a week after a grand jury handed up a series of charges against them.
Haynes was indicted on two counts of sex trafficking of a minor and one count each of production of child pornography and obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation. Haynes is married and is the father to three children; two girls, ages 14 and 11, and an 18-year-old son.
Jenkins, who leads Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo, is charged with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor and one count each of production of child pornography and receipt of child pornography. He's also accused of paying to have sex with the teenager at his home, his church, and a local motel.
Both pleaded "not guilty" to the charges. If convicted, both former pastors face the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
As reported, according to police documents, Haynes is accused of engaging in sexual relations with a then-fourteen year-old girl beginning in 2014 and of coercing the teen "into continued secrecy by implying revealing the sexual activity between them would ruin his family and church." He's also accused of paying the teen money to keep the encounters to herself.
Haynes reportedly introduced the teenager to others who paid the girl for sex, including Jenkins, who had sex with the girl at a Red Roof Inn in Toledo and in his office in a nearby church.
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. The FBI began an investigation after getting information a few weeks ago, according to CBS News.
The Blade notes that Haynes, who became an active pastor in 2010, comes from a family of religious leaders. His mother, Rosetta Haynes, is an active pastor at Mount Hope Church of Jesus Christ in North Toledo, state records show. It is also believed his late father, Harold P. Haynes, Sr., was a bishop, according to records.
In turn, Jenkins pastored for over 15 years at several churches in the A.M.E. Zion Church in South Carolina, Oakland, California, and Toledo. Jenkins' bio also claims that, "never wanting to be idle in his work for the Kingdom and community, Pastor Jenkins has been involved with several organizations" including the NAACP, the Black Methodist Fellowship, Single Parent's Harvest, and more.
Jenkins, the son of two pastors, said his mission in ministry is to "make the strong weak, the mend the broken and to heal the wounded."
In an interview, the Rev. Otis Gordon, Jr., of Toledo's Warren AME Church expressed shock over the charges and described Jenkins as "kind" and "respectful".
"I was overwhelmed. I was saddened for the church. I think that they deserve better. They deserve the spiritual leadership that God intended for them to have," Pastor Gordon said.