Two men of God were arrested for seeking sex with a young girl instead of tending to the souls of their flocks.
Jason Kennedy and Zubin Parakh were nabbed in an undercover sting operation in Knoxville, Tennessee, after answering an online ad to have sex with an underaged prostitute.
Kennedy, a 46-year-old children’s pastor for Grace Baptist Church, and Parakh, a 32-year-old creative pastor at LifeHouse Church, were among 32 men and women arrested by the Tennessee
Bureau of Investigation in an anti-trafficking operation, the agency said Friday.
A police report from Kennedy’s arrest seen by WVLT said that he had agreed to pay $100 for a half hour with two girls, one of whom was 15. Kennedy is married and has three children.
The Baptist preacher now faces patronizing prostitution and a trafficking charge that could land him with 60 years of prison. He was fired from his position after the news. Kennedy’s church said in a statement:
“The actions of the children’s pastor for which he has been arrested were part of his life outside the church, and we have received no questions or concerns related to his conduct within the church or its ministries.” .
It added that a background check had been done on him before he arrived two-and-a-half years ago, and said that it was praying for the pastor’s family.
Parakh, was also charged with trafficking, and like Kennedy, remained in custody as of Saturday morning ahead of hearings on May 31.
The fate of his job was not immediately clear, though his group distanced itself by saying he was only a volunteer.
References to him were stripped from his parish’s website, which had listed him as a pastor. A previous page on the church’s site seen by KGW said that he was gifted at music and “committed to seeing lives changed.”
His social media profiles also showcased a number of performances where he sang about God’s love.
TBI’s “Operation Someone Like Me,” the anti-trafficking sting that led to their and others’ arrests made ads on Backpage.com that attracted more than 300 contacts, including more than 24 for an underage listing.
Among the 32 people arrested were men charged with patronizing or promoting prostitution and five women charged with prostitution.