KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Two East Tennessee pastors waived their right to a preliminary hearing Monday after being charged with human trafficking. Their case will go to a Grand Jury.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Knoxville Police Department came together for a sting operation concerning the issue in the area. Former children’s pastor for Grace Baptist Church, Jason Kennedy, and former volunteer creative pastor for LifeHouse Church, Zubin Parakh, were arrested during the operation.
Investigators believe the two men solicited sex from minors. Kennedy responded to ads for girls who he thought were under 18-years-old, according to TBI. Parakh agreed to have sex with an undercover agent whom he thought was 17-years-old, says the report.
Both men pleaded not guilty. The men are being represented by Knoxville defense attorney Greg Issacs.
“Stings of this nature are typically high-pressure law enforcement operations that ensnare a lot of people,” Isaacs said. “Many of those individuals are not predisposed to commit the crimes they are swept up and later charged with, so I would encourage everyone to keep an open mind as this matter goes forward.”