Megachurch pastor admits sex with teen girl, says he ‘was not aware of law’
-- Post-Tribune September 27, 2012 8:02AM
Jack Alan Schaap, the former pastor of a Hammond megachurch, said Wednesday he didn’t know he was committing a crime when he transported a teen girl across state lines for sexual activity.
“I was not aware of the law,” he said during a hearing in federal court in Hammond.
He did say, though, he was aware it was unprofessional conduct and a sin.
Schaap, 54, of Dyer, Ind., was charged last week with taking someone under the age of 18 across state lines for sexual activity and ordered held without bond. Wednesday, he described the three trips he and the teen took, starting on June 20.
Schaap, wearing orange prison garb, said someone else actually transported the girl, who was then 16, into Crete but that he made that happen. They took another trip to Illinois a week later, after she had turned 17, and then a third trip on July 10 to Michigan, near the city of Cadillac.
He admitted he engaged in sexual activities with the girl.
Not only was Schaap the girl’s pastor at First Baptist Church in Hammond, he said, but he was superintendent of the private school connected to First Baptist that she attended, and he was counseling her at the time of the crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster said that the government’s evidence against Schaap included photos of him and the teenager together on the trips, text messages, phone records and testimony from the victim and other witnesses.
Schaap faces up to life in prison on the charge. But federal prosecutors have said in the plea agreement they will recommend he serve the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. Schaap must also pay a restitution to the victim, although that amount has not been set yet.
Schaap’s crime first came to life in the beginning of August when First Baptist, one of the largest churches in the country, fired him for the affair. Officials with the church said at the time that they did not believe he had committed a crime but had turned the case over anyway to the Lake County (Ind.) sheriff’s department.