Pastor Kenneth Butler of Kingdom Encounter Family Worship Center in Toledo, Ohio, was arrested last week and slapped with federal sex trafficking charges, joining two other well-known area pastors behind bars.
Authorities say Butler's case is related to the cases of the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, 46, and the Rev. Anthony Haynes, 38. Jenkins founded and was pastor of Abundant Life Ministries while Haynes led the Greater Life Christian Center, according to the Toledo Blade. They were arrested on April 7 by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents for sex trafficking of children. The pastors are said to have knowingly recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided or obtained a person under the age of 18, WTOL said.
Haynes is alleged to have been sexually exploiting juveniles for the last three years dating back to when one of the juveniles involved was 14 years old.
Butler's accuser states in a redacted affidavit that she met him when she was 15 years old at Haynes' church. Shortly after meeting the minor, according to the document, Butler told her he wanted to have sex with her.
"Specifically, while in the parking lot of Hayne's church, Butler told her he wanted to have sex with her in the front seat of his car and that he would make her [redacted]." The sexual conversation was interrupted, however, by a church member who approached the car.
When the minor turned 16, however, "she had sex with Butler in his vehicle in the City of Toledo. Approximately one month later, she felt pregnant and took several Plan B pills she believed terminated the pregnancy.
Another time, the minor described having sex with Butler, 37, inside his vehicle in an alley off the Anthony Wayne Trail. "Immediately following the sex, Butler placed money on the center console for her. [She] took the money and later purchased food for her and her siblings. [She] stated while she had sex with him again, he did not pay her on that occasion," the affidavit said.
Butler, who calls himself a prophet on his Facebook page, claimed in the affidavit after confessing to sex with the minor that the money he gave her was not for sex.
Celia Williamson, director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, told WTOL that Butler groomed and exploited his victim.
"In my eyes he was learning her vulnerabilities, her love of God, and her faith, and he used that, twisted that perhaps, to lure her into what he wanted. It had nothing to do with God, Jesus or anything good," Williamson said.
In a video apology prior to being arrested, Butler did not specifically mention the charges against him.
"Before things blow up ... I wanted to ... just apologize. I don't believe I've done it on purpose. I try not to do anything on purpose but ... if I Kenneth Butler ... have done anything in any way to offend you to make you feel bad to make you see God or me different ... I wanted to get on here and make a public apology," he said.
"It's never my intention to hurt or displease God. Let alone you the people. My heart's desire is only that we please God and do the work that he has assigned us to do. I know sometimes because of who we are and who we are connected to our assignments can get twisted up and things happen. So in this season I said be very careful. Be very careful of your connections," he said.
Butler was held due to a recording by Haynes' wife.