photograph: courtesy of first baptist church of hammond
Jack Schaap, the fallen pastor of an Indiana megachurch whose story was detailed in the January issue of Chicago, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in federal prison for having sex with an underage girl.
Schaap, 55, a married father of two, was fired from First Baptist Church of Hammond after admitting to having sex with a 16-year-old girl who he was counseling. The sentence was part of a deal Schaap agreed to when he pleaded guilty in September to taking a minor across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Authorities say Schaap “groomed” the girl during numerous counseling sessions, then began making physical overtures including kissing her in his office. Schaap told the victim that a sexual relationship was “exactly what Christ desires for us,” according to a March 13 filing by prosecutors. According to the document, Schaap had sex with the teenager during numerous trips to his Michigan cabin and a vacation home in Crete. He also had sex with her in his office during a youth conference, the prosecutors say.
In an earlier filing, Schaap pleaded for leniency, blaming problems with his prostate, exhaustion from 100-hour work weeks, and the mental strain of financial difficulties that forced him to lay off church employees.
Prosecutors responded with a memorandum that revealed hitherto unknown details about the extent of the relationship, including long love letters written by the ex-pastor to the girl. Here are five of the most revolting details revealed in the report.
In the same filing, the victim and her family wrote of the damage the relationship caused and their feelings of betrayal at the hands of the most trusted member of the ultra-conservative church.
“I was raised by my parents and teachers to trust and obey my pastor,” the victim wrote in one of two victim impact statements. “He was a celebrity to me, a father figure, and a man of God….[Schaap] violated my trust. But when it was being violated, I didn’t even know it because he made me believe what we were doing was okay ad right in the eyes of God.”