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Laura Lloyd-Jenkins: Guilty By Association Perhaps But Not for Any Perceived Failures

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

Despite the shock, the devastation, the trauma, the embarrassment of having to deal with the news of her husband’s indiscretions and, then, his arrest on charges of sex trafficking of a 17-year-old minor and child pornography, Laura Lloyd-Jenkins soldiered on in her position of Lucas County Administrator from the moment the news first hit her in late March, though April, through May, through June, through the first half of July, performing her duties as her bosses on the Board of Lucas County Commissioners would have expected and without incident or second guessing, evidently, on the part of those supervisors.
 

Laura Lloyd-Jenkins

In July, however, Lloyd-Jenkins would be suspended for 30 days, 10 without pay. In a letter dated July 11, Lloyd-Jenkins was informed by Board of Commissioners President Pete Gerken that the 10-day punishment was “for failure of good behavior in your job duties.” The nature of the failure was not explained in the letter. And in more than four years on the job, says Lloyd-Jenkins, she had never been informed that her performance was ever less than satisfactory. However, the timing of the suspension did coincide with media reports earlier that week that misrepresented what Lloyd-Jenkins knew and when she knew about her husband’s activities.

The letter indicated that Lloyd-Jenkins was to return to work on July 31 but that return was pre-empted by another letter from Gerken dated July 28 placing her on “paid administrative leave effective Monday July 31, 2017.”

On November 28, Lloyd-Jenkins received her latest communication in this matter ending her employment with the county.

Lloyd-Jenkins’ involvement in these proceedings began on the night of March 29, 2017 when she was contacted by phone by a woman claiming knowledge of inappropriate behavior involving her husband. Upon returning the call, she was asked to meet immediately that night at a local pizza place

Once there she met the caller who had requested the meeting. The caller was the guardian, as she explained, of a teen-aged girl. The guardian informed Lloyd-Jenkins of the inappropriate relationship between her husband and the girl and also informed her of the fact that numerous texts, sent between Cordell Jenkins and the girl, would confirm those allegations. Lloyd-Jenkins was only told about the texts, not shown them.

Lloyd-Jenkins called her husband immediately and he arrived within minutes. Once there, he vehemently denied the allegations to his wife and the girl’s guardian. At an impasse, the parties agreed to meet the next afternoon to further discuss the matter.

The next day, however, the guardian called Lloyd-Jenkins during the mid-afternoon, to inform her that law enforcement officials had been called by a third party. Cordell Jenkins was arrested on April 7 and accused of paying two minor girls for sex and soliciting nude photographs and videos from them – he has been charged with two federal counts of sex trafficking of a minor and one count each of production of child pornography and receipt of child pornography. He has remained in custody since his arrest.

The key moment so far in the ongoing investigation occurred on July 6 during a pretrial hearing into the Cordell Jenkins case. At that time the FBI agent testified, accurately according to Lloyd Jenkins: “that Laura Lloyd Jenkins found out the nature of the text messages and called Mr. Cordell Jenkins.”

That testimony, however, was misrepresented in a July 6 article in the local daily newspaper which reported that the agent testified “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.”

The Blade continued the misrepresentation in a subsequent article and reported that “The guardian showed Ms. Lloyd Jenkins the teenager’s cell phone which contained explicit text messages indicating Mr. Jenkins paid the girl to have sex.”

Again, this is not what the agent said during his testimony, but by now the damage had been done to Lloyd Jenkins’ career and reputation. The sins of her husband had been visited upon her. In all, four times between July 6 and August 1, the local daily misrepresented the testimony of the FBI agent, stating, for example, on August 1 that “a judge heard the testimony of an FBI agent who said that Ms. Lloyd-Jenkins knew about her husband’s alleged crimes.” The agent, in fact, offered no such testimony.

A local television statement compounded the misrepresentations, reporting on July 7 that Lloyd-Jenkins had “resigned from her post at Lucas County Children’s Services after lying about her knowledge of child sex trafficking.”

The misrepresentation of Lloyd-Jenkins’ actions was also the result of reports of the testimony given during the July 6 hearing when the FBI agent told of searching Lloyd-Jenkins’ cell phone and discovering Google searches for companion air travel, as well as possible charges for the alleged crimes – leading to government testimony that Lloyd-Jenkins considered leaving the country and taking her husband with her.

However, these Google searches, conducted in the immediate aftermath of Lloyd-Jenkins’ father’s massive stroke on April 4, days after her husband’s issues had come to light, were solely for her own travel – as the designated travel companion of a friend who was an employee of a major U.S. airline. No one else can use the privilege other than Lloyd-Jenkins.  Searches for possible charges related to the allegations against her husband began on March 30, the day she was notified that law enforcement had been notified. 

Other than her initial statement to the FBI in April – when she voluntarily provided access to her phone - she has not been contacted at all by law enforcement officials regarding this case.

She was placed on unpaid suspension by the Lucas County Commissioners on July 11, 2017 in a letter calling it a “disciplinary suspension for 30 days, of which ten days will be without pay.” And although the letter does not specify the infraction, the timing of the action, not coincidentally, occurred just after the newspaper articles which declared Lloyd-Jenkins guilty by association. When asked why the commissioners waited until that time to suspend Lloyd-Jenkins, Gerken told The Truth that “it was the collective decision of the board.”

According to Lloyd Jenkins, she never saw the text messages and, given the denial by her husband and the brief time before law enforcement was made aware of the allegations – within mere hours of Lloyd Jenkins’ hearing of the accusations, she had none of the facts necessary to make such a report. Indeed, Lloyd-Jenkins states that she has been taken unaware that there was difficulty in the couple’s marriage.

Lloyd Jenkins, a California native, moved to Toledo in February 2013 and assumed her job at the County at that time and joined her husband whom she had married in 2010. As administrator, she served as the chief operating officer and was the first African American and first female to do so. To move to Toledo, she left her position as principal administrative analyst for a large urban county in California. She earned her undergraduate degree in business administration and a masters in strategic management – both from California State University, Hayward.

In April 2014, she joined the board of Lucas County Children Services, becoming secretary of that board in March 2015. She took a leave of absence from the board in April 2017 following the indictment in U.S. District Court of her husband. While on the leave of absence, near the end of May, says Lloyd-Jenkins, she was contacted by the LCCS board president and invited to return to her seat – informing her that her eligibility to be a board member, given the charges against her husband, had been clarified. Lloyd-Jenkins put off the decision to return and later resigned from the Board in July.

The LCCS then provided training to its board members on their mandatory duty to report suspected incidences of child abuse and neglect in May – after Lloyd-Jenkins’ leave of absence. In her three years on the Board, says Lloyd-Jenkins, she not only had never received such training but she also had never been informed that she was a mandatory reporter.

Indeed, one long-time former board member, Pete Culp, says that in his seven years of service on the Board, he never received training for mandatory reporting nor did he know that he was, in fact, a designated mandatory reporter.

When Lloyd-Jenkins received the second letter dated July 28 placing her on paid administrative leave, there began an ongoing discussion about the status of her employment. On November 17 she received a letter from the president of the Board of Commissioners informing her that “your status of paid administrative leave is continued… effective Friday, November 24, 2017, until further notice.”

Further notice arrived on November 28, ending her employment with the county and, once again, no explanation was forthcoming about the reason for the disciplinary action. She was only informed that she did “not have civil service protection and serve[d] at the discretion of the appointing authority.”

   
   


Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/07/17 11:23:23 -0800.


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