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Wife confronted Toledo pastor but didn’t report crime, feds say

Rev. Cordell Jenkins is charged with child sex trafficking

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    The Rev. Cordell Jenkins leaves U.S. District Court on June 28 in Toledo. A judge heard Jenkins' case to be released on Thursday, but has not ruled on the motion.

    THE BLADE
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    Cordell Jenkins.

Lucas County Administrator Laura Lloyd-Jenkins abruptly walked out of a Bible study March 29 after getting a phone call concerning her husband, the Rev. Cordell Jenkins.

At a hearing Thursday, in which attorneys for Mr. Jenkins asked U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary to release him on bond as he awaits trial, FBI Special Agent Alex Hunt testified Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins then drove to a pizza shop where the guardian of a 17-year-old girl showed her the girl’s cell phone and the racy text messages that indicated Mr. Jenkins had been paying the girl for sex.

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Agent Hunt said Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins called her husband to come to the pizza shop, where he was confronted with the cell-phone evidence and reportedly said it was a lie.

On the same date, the agent said, Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins left a message on the phone of co-defendant the Rev. Anthony Haynes asking him to call her and saying things were “serious” and “about to blow up.”

Mr. Haynes, 38, is charged with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor and one count each of production of child pornography and obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation. He appeared briefly in court Thursday, but remains in custody without bond.

Mr. Jenkins, 46, founder and pastor of Abundant Life Ministries, is charged with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor and one count each of production of child pornography and receipt of child pornography. He has asked the court to allow him to live at his Barrington Drive home with his parents, Bishop Chorrethers M. Jenkins, 68, and Stephanie Jenkins, 69, as his guardians.

Judge Zouhary did not immediately rule on the motion for bond.

At the hearing, Michael Freeman, an assistant U.S. attorney, vehemently argued against Mr. Jenkins’ release, citing the nature and circumstances of the offenses and the substantial amount of evidence, including text messages, surveillance video, bank records, and the testimony of the two minor girls.

Mr. Freeman said the pastor was leading a double life.

“On Sundays, he preaches. On Mondays, he’s at the Red Roof Inn having sex with two juveniles,” Mr. Freeman said.

Defense attorney Allison Folmar told the court Mr. Jenkins could post a property bond consisting of his own home and his parents’ home in Youngstown. Together, the two properties have equity of about $94,000, she said.

Judge Zouhary asked whether Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins would be living at the couple’s home if her husband is released, and Ms. Folmar said she would not.

Ms. Folmar told the court Mr. Jenkins had no criminal record, and his parents testified they were unaware if he’d ever been violent or used drugs. She said he did not present a flight risk, was not a danger to the community, and was “not a threat to the complaining witnesses.”

Mr. Freeman countered Mr. Jenkins was a danger not only to the victims in the case but “to any girl in the Toledo area.” He also referenced Internet searches Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins made on her phone after learning of her husband’s conduct.

Special Agent Hunt testified Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins allowed the FBI to search her phone and found searches done March 30, including “husband slept with 17-year-old,” “what is sex trafficking?”, and later, “Southwest companion pass international travel” and “find Caribbean hotels by Marriott.”

Mr. Freeman pointed out Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins was a board member for Lucas County Children Services and therefore a mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse.

While she was doing these Internet searches, Mr. Freeman said, Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins never reported what she had learned about her husband’s alleged involvement with a juvenile and has not reported it “to this day.”

CSB issued a statement Thursday saying Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins remained “on leave” from its board of trustees.

“We are not the appointing authority for our board,” the statement read. “Meanwhile, we will continue to ensure that the victims in this case are protected from further trauma and that they receive the services they need to move past this tragedy and onto new chapters in their lives.”

Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins, who did not attend Thursday’s hearing, did not return a phone call seeking comment. She previously has declined to discuss the case.

Pete Gerken, president of the Lucas County Commissioners, declined comment Thursday evening. Following initial arrests in the case, Mr. Gerken in April said the county has a clear stance against sex trafficking based on previous policies and statements. He said Ms. Jenkins remained a county employee, and to the county’s knowledge she was neither complicit nor charged in the case.

Lorin Zaner, co-counsel for Mr. Jenkins, asked Agent Hunt if the FBI had seized and analyzed his client’s phone. Mr. Hunt said they had the phone but had not been able to access its contents.

Mr. Zaner then asked whether investigators could ascertain that Mr. Jenkins actually sent or received the messages he purportedly exchanged with the two victims.

“Not by looking at his electronics, no,” the agent replied.

Mr. Jenkins’ parents took the stand, saying they were prepared to act as their son’s “jailers” and would not hesitate to contact authorities if he violated any of the court’s orders.

Bishop Jenkins said he had several ministers in place at his church in Youngstown, Grace Evangelistic Temple, who would handle his responsibilities while he was in Toledo.

Mr. Freeman told the court in his closing argument that he didn’t find Bishop Jenkins to be a credible guardian for Mr. Jenkins, particularly when he testified that he couldn’t remember receiving a text message from his daughter-in-law on March 31 in which she asked him to come to their house because “Cordell tells me he wants to end his life. I believe him. This is serious. ... I need your help.”

Bishop Jenkins also said when he learned of his son’s arrest, he didn’t know the charges involved alleged sex trafficking.

“What I was told was the words, ‘It’s big,’ ” he said.

“Whose words?” Mr. Freeman asked.

“Laura’s,” Bishop Jenkins said, adding he didn’t ask for details. “I simply said, ‘Get a lawyer.’ ”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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