Former Bishop Ken Adkins was found guilty of child molestation in April and sentenced to life in prison. (Florida Times-Union, Terry Dickson, file photo)
On the outside, he was known as the Bishop. But behind the barbed-wired walls in a southern Georgia prison, Kenneth Adkins is Prisoner 100201369.
Adkins, a long-time Jacksonville public relations executive and unabashedly outspoken anti-gay pastor in Brunswick, stunned the region in the summer of 2016 when he was arrested on allegations he had sexual relations with underage teens he mentored at his Brunswick church.
Adkins’ week-long trial last spring ended with him being sentenced to life. The jury found that Adkins exploited a 15-year-old boy and girl by acting as a father figure and giving them gifts when in reality he was grooming them for sex.
Before a packed courtroom in April, a judge told Adkins that 35 years from now, he may serve the rest of his life sentence on probation status. That scenario — life on the outside — is highly unlikely for the 58-year-old.
For now, eight months into his life behind bars, Adkins is holding his own, according to his wife and attorney. A large man, he has even lost about 100 pounds.
He is housed at the Autry State Prison just north of Tallahassee. He works at the library and is also permitted to attend Bible study and worship services. Charlotte Adkins said her husband also is teaching a re-entry class for inmates who are preparing to be released.
“In just a short time he has made a great impact in helping these inmates want to succeed in life once they are released back into society,” she said.
Adkins calls his attorney and long-time acquaintance, Kevin Gough, about once a month from prison, Gough said.
“He’s holding up really well,” Gough said. “A lot of times, these kinds of things break people, but Ken is holding up pretty well. He is still active in prison ministry as best is he is able to be.”
The age of consent in Georgia is 16. Age and the timeline of events were key in his case for the charges to stand. To this day, Adkins maintains his innocence. A motion for a new trial is pending.
“At this point, he is biding his time for his appeal. He steadfastly maintains his innocence and he is as confident as any human can be that he will be exonerated,” Gough said.
His wife also keeps in contact with him and said their conversations consist of prayer and his final requests in case he dies in prison.
“If he dies in prison, his last requests are for me not claim his body,” she said. “He stated, ‘If the prosecution has gone through so much trouble to convict me of something I did not do, then they can have my body.’ I plan on following out his final requests.”