The former leader of the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo, Ohio was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday. According to reports, pastor Anthony Haynes groomed an underage girl to serve him sexually and then shared her with two other pastors.
Haynes pleaded with U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to have mercy on him.
“I don’t deserve life. I don’t deserve life,” Haynes insisted during his sentencing, 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.”
At the time of the abuse, his victim was only 14 years old. Haynes is now 40 years old.
In 2017, Haynes was arrested given federal sex trafficking charges. He was charged along with 39-year-old Pastor Kenneth Butler of Kingdom Encounter Family Worship Center and 48-year-old Reverend Cordell Jenkins. Jenkins previously led Abundant Life Ministries.
According to court documents cited by ABC 13, Haynes, Jenkins, and Butler groomed and used an underaged girl for sex from 2014 to 2017. The Haynes family took the girl in after her mother could no longer provide for her. In 2014, when the assaults began, she was only 14 years old, and Haynes knew she had previously been a victim of sexual abuse.
Haynes would routinely pay the minor money after sex acts and threaten her about speaking out. He said that she should never say anything about their activities because it would ruin his family and his church.
According to court documents, Haynes shared the victim with other men, abusing his position as her caretaker and spiritual leader. He exploited her in his own home, in his vehicle, in his office at the church, and in a Toledo motel. He also took pictures on his phone of her during sex acts.
Judge Friedman expressed sympathy for Haynes’ family but had little for him personally. The judge described the things that had occurred in the case as “disgusting” and “horrible.” He also noted Haynes’ seeming lack of remorse.
“Society relies on people of trust. It’s totally violated here and we have to send a message,” Friedman said. “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.”
Featured image via screen grab/ABC13