Prosecutors had asked for 10 years for the Rev. Jack Schaap, but Judge Rudy Lozano noted federal sentencing guidelines called for at least 168 months, and he didn’t want to go that much below the guidelines.
Lozano noted that Schaap, former First Baptist Church of Hammond pastor, pleaded guilty, but considering the government’s case, he almost had to. He mentioned that Schaap fired an employee who went to his wife with information about his affair with a teen girl, and also asked a tech employee of the church if the photos and texts could be erased. The employee told him they could not, then went to church deacons and the FBI with the images and texts.
March 20, 2013 (HAMMOND, Ind.) (WLS) — A former Hammond, Indiana pastor was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday for having sex with a 17-year-old girl who attended his church.
A 10-year-sentence was recommended by both sides but the federal judge went with a longer sentence in this case.
The courtroom for his sentencing was full and dozens more waited outside while the hearing took place. Many former and current church members were there to witness Schaap’s sentencing.
Schaap’s family left federal court without commenting.
Former church member Nadine Salgado says she left the church and is concerned about the victim.
“It breaks my heart,” she said. “He was my pastor too but I knew the reason I left was a good reason.”
Jack Schaap admitted he had a sexual relationship with the underage girl.
“It’s important to him that the congregation of his church or his former church understands that the buck stopped with him,” Schaap family friend Paul Stracci said. “And the church and its congregation begin healing today.”
The church, which is just blocks from the courthouse, has a new pastor.
A spokesman for the church said in part, “We believe that the justice system was and is fair. We are also glad that our church family can now move beyond this situation and can continue the healing process.”
Some members still struggle with the crimes with which Cchaap was convicted and now sentenced.
“It almost seems unbelievable because that is just not him at all,” church member Bonnee Reay said. “It’s like a nightmare.”
Originally Schaap was counseling the girl but the relationship resulted in inappropriate conduct and sometimes taking the girl out of Indiana.
In letters submitted to the court, it was revealed that the victim and her family continue to struggle with the impact of the abuse.