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Former Jacksonville minister found guilty of sex abuse against youth

Michael Todd Linkenauger
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
Michael Todd Linkenauger.

The former leader of a ministry for the homeless has been found guilty of sexual battery after a young person was raped and sexually abused several times in 2017 and 2018, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.

The jury took just a few hours to reach the guilty verdicts after a two-day trial for Michael Todd Linkenauger, 44, according to Duval County court records. The jury also found him guilty of attempted sexual battery and two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation.

Linkenauger faces a potential sentence of 20 years to life in prison when his sentencing hearing is held Tuesday, court officials said.

Linkenauger was in charge of the Hot Dogs for Hope ministry when he was arrested almost three years ago at his office on Bartram Park Boulevard, initially on one count each of sexual battery, lewd or lascivious conduct, and lewd or lascivious exhibition. He was ultimately charged with four counts of sexual battery, six of lewd molestation, and another of attempted sexual battery, court files said.

The Sheriff’s Office investigation began Feb. 27, 2020, after authorities were notified of sexual abuse against a person between ages 12 and 18, the arrest affidavit states.

The victim, whose age was not released, said Linkenauger befriended him and his mother four years earlier at church and stayed overnight at their home several times, the arrest warrant said. The victim said he also spent some nights at Linkenauger’s home between August 2017 and July of 2018, when they “cuddled," the affidavit states.

The child sometimes was sexually abused when they were out of town on golf trips, the affidavit says. When the mother confronted Linkenauger, he told her that he had fantasies about being with boys, the warrant said. He also told her to believe whatever her son said and that he was “about to lose everything, and he had done things a lot worse.”

Linkenauger’s “Hot Dogs for Hope” website, now gone, had said he was a married father of four. It said his ministry had helped the homeless with meals, assistance, laundry and clothing from early 2016 until his arrest.

Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years as a radio, television and print reporter in the Jacksonville area, as well as years of broadcast work in the Northeast. You can reach Dan at, (904) 607-2770 or on Twitter at @scanlan_dan.