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Children's Minister Among 32 Trafficking Arrests

Posted at 3:33 PM, May 20, 2016

Authorities said a children's minister was among 32 people facing charges after a prostitution and human-trafficking sting in Knoxville.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation officials said the suspects were arrested as part of the three-day “Operation Someone Like Me,” during which agents posted ads on Backpage.com. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported charges against those arrested included seven felonies and 30 misdemeanors.

The children's minister, 46-year-old Jason Kennedy, was charged with human trafficking and patronizing prostitution. Jail records didn't say whether he had an attorney. The bureau said he works at Grace Baptist Church in Knoxville.

“Operation Someone Like Me” was the fifth sting in the state involving a collaborative effort between the bureau and local agencies to crack down on human trafficking.

From the arrests, the TBI released the following names and charges:

  • Michael Clayton, 43, Clinton, TN – Patronizing Prostitution
  • Larry Quarles, 52, New Market, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Gerrado Merchant, 36, Jacksboro, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • James Perkins, 50, Sweetwater, TN- Patronizing Prostitution
  • Greg Hensley, 44, Mascot, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Jaton Johnson, 38, Knoxville, TN  - Patronizing Prostitution, Simple Possession
  • Samuel Rivers, 27, East Point, GA – Patronizing Prostitution, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Simple Possession
  • Prashante Bhakta, 35, Columbus, NC - Patronizing Prostitution
  • James Warren, 32, Newport, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Dariusz Jurczak, 45, Knoxville, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Gary Bauer, 56, Heiskell, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Nicholas Rains, 24, Maryville, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Ignacio Jimenez, 38, Maryville, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Patrick Douthat, 27, Knoxville, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Brandon Slatton, 22, Knoxville, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Jeffrey Sweeney, 63, Knoxville, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Robert Aiken, 48, Jacksboro, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Atari McNabb, 28, Knoxville, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Zubin Parakh, 32, Oak Ridge, TN - Patronizing Prostitution, (warrant for) Trafficking
  • Jonathan McCarthy, 30, Augusta,  GA - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Jose Juarez, 38, Knoxville, TN – Patronizing Prostitution
  • Robert Lambert, 40, Knoxville, TN - Patronizing Prostitution
  • Cornelius Turner, 25, Memphis, TN – Promoting Prostitution
  • Jerry Rhode, 63, Kodak, TN – Patronizing Prostitution
  • Zachary Desha, 24, Knoxville, TN – Promoting Prostitution
  • Jason Kennedy, 46, Knoxville, TN – Patronizing Prostitution, Trafficking
  • Kelsey Martin, 23, Boaz, KY – Prostitution
  • Alexis Phelps, 21, Knoxville, TN – Prostitution
  • Shirley Henry, 23, Clinton, TN – Prostitution
  • Stephanie Thomas, 26, Knoxville, TN – Prostitution
  • Crystal Myers, 37, Knoxville, TN - Prostitution