Toledo, Ohio – A Toledo pastor is likely to spend 17 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to sex trafficking of minors.
Kenneth Butler, 38, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy to sex traffic children, two counts of sex trafficking of children and one count of obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation.
Butler is scheduled to be sentenced in September. Under the terms of his plea agreement, both sides will ask for a sentence of 210 months in prison.
“This defendant has admitted to crimes that include preying on a foster child who was previously the victim of sexual abuse, and he committed these crimes in a house of worship,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “Butler may hold himself out to the community as a pastor, but in the eyes of the law he is a criminal who pays money to sexually assault children.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony said: “The FBI is pleased that Kenneth Butler has acknowledged the criminal behavior he inflicted on a vulnerable minor. The FBI will continue efforts to identify and prosecute those that coerce and exploit our youth through sex trafficking.”
Two other pastors – Anthony Haynes and Cordell Jenkins – have been indicted for their roles in the sex trafficking conspiracy and are awaiting trial. Laura Lloyd Jenkins has been indicted for obstructing the investigation and is also awaiting trial.
According to Butler’s plea agreement:
Butler did knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, maintain, patronize, or solicit, by any means, Juvenile #1 and #2, knowing that such juveniles had not attained the age of 18 years and would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act. This took place between 2015 and March 2017.
Butler was a pastor of a church in Detroit from 2007 through 2012. Shortly after his church closed in 2013, Butler started attending church at the Greater Life Christian Center in Toledo. Anthony Haynes was the lead pastor of the church. Haynes and Butler quickly became friends and started spending time together at the church and elsewhere.
In 2014, Haynes told Butler Juvenile #1 moved into his home. Haynes informed Butler that Juvenile #1 was sexually abused when she was younger by her family members, and at least one of the family members was convicted of a crime for the conduct.
In late 2015, Haynes picked up Butler with Juvenile #1 already in the car. The three of them went to the Greater Life Christian Center to Haynes’s office. Juvenile #1 began to undress. Haynes looked at Butler and stated, “You owe me” and laughed.
Haynes and Butler performed oral sex on Juvenile #1 and then took turns having unprotected vaginal intercourse. While Butler was penetrating Juvenile #1, Juvenile #1 was performing oral sex on Haynes. Butler knew Juvenile #1 was under the age of 18 years. The next day, Haynes and Butler discussed the encounter and how it was fun.
In 2016, Haynes closed Greater Life Christian Center and opened a new church named University Bible Fellowship in Toledo. Shortly after this church opened, Haynes called Bulter and told him to meet Juvenile #1 and him at University Bible Fellowship. When Butler arrived, it was apparent they were going to have another threesome.
However, Haynes instructed Butler to give Juvenile #1 a ride to her job interview first. He drove Juvenile #1 to the interview and brought her back to the church. Once back at the church, Juvenile #1 performed oral sex on Haynes and Butler, and they took turns having unprotected vaginal intercourse with her.
After this encounter, Haynes told Butler that Cordell Jenkins also was having sex with Juvenile #1. Butler knew Jenkins as another pastor in the Toledo area. Butler went to Jenkins’s church on a few occasions when Haynes was a guest preacher. Likewise, Jenkins was a guest preacher at Haynes’s church.
Approximately one month later, Butler picked up Juvenile #1 from school and drove to a secluded area, where Butler had unprotected vaginal intercourse with her in the car.
Butler rented a motel room in Toledo a few weeks later. Juvenile #1 stated that Haynes was supposed to meet them, but he never showed up. Butler had unprotected vaginal intercourse with Juvenile #1.
Butler went to Juvenile #1’s residence in early 2017. On the way, he called and spoke with Haynes. Juvenile #1 asked for $30 for her hair, in which Butler replied, “You better be nice and naked.”
Butler had unprotected vaginal intercourse with Juvenile #1 at her residence. After the sex, he gave her $30.
In March 2017, Haynes informed Butler that there was a federal investigation into their conduct. Butler deleted text messages on his cellular telephone regarding his conversations with Juvenile #1.
Butler also had sex with another minor, Juvenile #2, who attend church at Greater Life Christian Center. The two met at the church in 2016. Shortly after meeting, Butler started his own church in the Detroit area.
Butler routinely took Juvenile #2 with him to his church in Michigan. Juvenile #2 watched Bulter’s children during the church service. In 2017, while driving back from his Detroit church, Butler pulled off the road and had vaginal intercourse with Juvenile #2. Butler knew Juvenile #2 had not attained the age of 18 years. Butler routinely provided Juvenile #2 rides to various places in the Toledo area, and on at least one occasion, gave her $20.
On October 4, 2017, Juvenile #2 called Butler. During the call, Butler told Juvenile #2 to lie to federal authorities when asked about their sex, according to court documents.
The full press release is available at justice.gov.