TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A former minister accused of grooming a 14-year-old girl for sex and then encouraging her to engage in sex with two other pastors has been convicted of child sex trafficking.
A federal jury found Anthony Haynes guilty of multiple charges Wednesday, hours after he denied having sex with the girl and said she tried to manipulate him, telling jurors, “I’m not a pervert.”
Haynes, 40, now faces up to life in prison. Two other Toledo-area pastors who have pleaded guilty in the investigation also are awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors showed jurors evidence that included text messages, photos, voice mails and DNA evidence from Haynes’ church where the girl said they would meet.
The now 19-year-old woman testified that Haynes paid her for sex during a three-year period after promising her mother he would protect her and act as a father figure.
Prosecutors said Haynes pledged in front of his congregation to look out for the girl because she had a difficult childhood and was sexually abused by a relative.
She said Haynes began grooming her when she turned 14 and later introduced her to the two other pastors, Kenneth Butler and Cordell Jenkins.
Sometimes, the two men joked about the arrangement, prosecutors said.
Michael Freeman, an assistant U.S. attorney, said the woman is doing well now. “She’s been carrying this burden with her since 2014 and now she feels relieved,” he said.
Defense attorneys declined to comment.
In addition to the charges against the men, Haynes’ wife and stepdaughter are accused of abducting the victim at gunpoint in January and warning her not to testify at the trial.
Court documents say the pair forced the teenager from her apartment, choked her with a cord and told her to take back statements she made to investigators. Attorneys for Haynes’ wife and stepdaughter have declined to comment.