Former leader of the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo, Ohio, Anthony Haynes, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday even though he pleaded with U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to have mercy on him for grooming a teenage girl to have sex with him and then going on to share her with two other pastors.
“I don’t deserve life. I don’t deserve life,” Haynes argued during his sentencing for grooming his then 14-year-old victim, according to the Toledo Blade. “Like I said, I’ve been doing life for 27 months while I’ve been away from my children and this hurts ... my need today is for you to have mercy on Anthony Haynes.”
Haynes, now 40, was arrested and slapped with federal sex trafficking charges in 2017 along with Pastor Kenneth Butler, now 39, of Kingdom Encounter Family Worship Center and the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, now 48, who once led Abundant Life Ministries.
Court documents cited by ABC 13 said Butler, Jenkins and Haynes sexually assaulted a juvenile girl beginning in 2014 through 2017. The victim was allegedly 14 when the assaults began while in Haynes' custody. Some of the assaults allegedly took placed at the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo.
Haynes also routinely paid the girl money after the sex acts and warned her not to say anything about their activities as it would ruin his family and his church.
Haynes further shared the victim with other men, including Jenkins, court documents say. Jenkins allegedly sexually exploited the girl at his home on Barrington Drive repeatedly, as well as at his office at Abundant Life Ministries and at a motel in Toledo. He reportedly paid the girl and recorded some of their activities with his cellular phone. He also allegedly exploited another underage girl who engaged in commercial sexual activity in March 2017.
Even though he expressed sympathy for Haynes’ five children, Judge Friedman pointed out the “disgusting, horrible” things that occurred in the case as well as the disgraced pastor’s lack of remorse.
“Society relies on people of trust. ... It’s totally violated here and we have to send a message,” Friedman said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman argued that Haynes abused his position as a pseudo-parent and a clergyman to exploit the teenager who was a previous victim of sexual assault and said justice was served.
"Ultimately we got the sentence that I thought justice required. And so no matter how we get there, he's going to be off the streets forever and the victim was heard and the sentence reflects that," Freeman said, according to WTOL.
The victim, who is now older, was also relieved by the sentence, Freeman added.
"She is relieved, to be honest. This is kind of an end of a chapter, a horrific chapter for her, now she can move on. She's still in school, college getting her social work degree. She is working and so she was emotional to a degree but she is happy and relieved that her words were heard," Freeman added.
The victim noted that she was afraid to say anything for three years as she was exploited because she didn’t think anyone would believe her because of Haynes’ position as a pastor.
“I just let it happen,” she said.
Haynes’ family members also argued that his sentence was not proportional to similar crimes.
His brother called the judicial system “f----- up” in an interview with ABC 13 and noted that the victim had been openly having sex with other men while taking money from them.