Citing the “extensive media coverage” his case has received, one of three Toledo area pastors charged with sex trafficking children is asking the court to move his trial to Cleveland.
Anthony Haynes filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Monday seeking the change of venue, which he said is necessary to ensure that he receives a fair trial.
“The allegations of pastors committing sexual crimes against children have caused this case to be the focus of the media for more than a year now,” the motion states.
Mr. Haynes, who led the Greater Life Christian Center, is charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to sex-traffic children, sex-trafficking of children, sexual exploitation of children, and obstruction of a sex-trafficking investigation.
He was arrested in April, 2017, along with the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, founder and pastor of Abundant Life Ministries. Mr. Jenkins' wife, former Lucas County Administrator Laura Lloyd-Jenkins, was later indicted on charges of obstructing the investigation and making a false statement to federal investigators.
A third area pastor, Kenneth Butler, pleaded guilty May 14 to conspiracy to sex-traffic children, obstruction of a sex-trafficking investigation, and two counts of sex-trafficking of children. He is to be sentenced Sept. 12 to more than 17 years in prison.
The federal courts in both Toledo and Cleveland are part of the Northern District of Ohio, but are in different divisions.
Mr. Haynes said the indictment of Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins “has made this case stand out in the media outlets in the Western Division counties. While there has been some media coverage of the case in the Eastern Division, the coverage has not been anywhere that in the Western Division.”
Mr. Haynes' motion states that copies of the criminal complaints in his case were attached to an article in The Blade and remain available online even though the court later sealed the records.
“While Cleveland is only two hours away, it is significantly less likely that the jury pool is tainted with the media coverage of this case,” the motion states.
Craig Tame, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said federal prosecutors plan to oppose the motion to move the trial and will file a response in the next two weeks.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.
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