An undercover operation conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) along with the Knoxville Police Department resulted in 32 arrests on prostitution charges. Two men, one a Baptist children’s minister and the other a ‘creative pastor,’ at a nondenominational church, were also charged with felony human trafficking.
According to TBI, 46-year-old Jason Kennedy was arrested after he responded to an ad promising sex with an under-age girl. Kennedy showed up at a hotel room where he believed that the young girl would be waiting for him. Instead he was met by police.
WBIR reports that Kennedy has been the children’s minister at Grace Baptist Church in Karns, TN for two-and-a-half years.
Church officials claim that Kennedy never behaved suspiciously around the children he ‘ministered to.’
Kennedy’s church also issued an oddly worded statement after his arrest. The choice of wording creates serious doubts about whether the church conducted an actual background check before hiring him to work with children.
After informing parents and church members that the children’s pastor has been arrested for attempting to have sex with a child, the statement continues:
The church’s background check turned up no issues that indicate any previous problem. In fact, the children’s pastor in his application affirmed that he had no issues in his background of a criminal or other nature.
This statement implies that the church’s background check consists of asking a potential employee to ‘check the yes box if you’re a child predator.’
The second man charged with human trafficking was 36-year-old Zubin Parakh of Oak Ridge, TN. Zubin also showed up at the hotel expecting to have sex with a child.
According to WBIR:
Parakh is connected to Lifehouse Church in Oak Ridge. A church spokesperson said Parakh serves as a volunteer as a “creative pastor.”
Although Parakh is not officially a pastor at Lifehouse Church, he was working toward becoming one.
The thirty other men and women arrested were charged with prostitution-related crimes.
According to police, Kennedy and Zubin were the only two people who showed up at the hotel expecting to have sex with someone under the age of 18.
Here’s more on this story from WPVI:
Image credit: video screen capture WPVI via YouTube