No charges expected against Hammond church leader
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent August 1, 2012 4:34PM
Deacon Terry Duff and Eddie Wilson, spokesman for the First Baptist Church of Hammond, take questions Wednesday about dissmissal of Pastor Jack Schaap. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 26, 2012 6:27PM
HAMMOND — No charges are expected to be filed against Pastor Jack Schaap for his involvement with an underage girl, according to a First Baptist Church of Hammond official, although the church remains resolute in being cooperative with authorities.
A release put out by Lake County Sheriff John Buncich’s office on Wednesday said his office, along with the FBI’s Merrillville office, are continuing the investigation into Schaap for his alleged misconduct with the church member. Church spokesman Eddie Wilson said the girl is 17. The age of consent in Indiana is 16.
“There has been a lot of conjecture regarding the girl in the press,” Wilson said, adding that the girl and her family are church members. He said she isn’t a student at the Schererville-based Hyles-Anderson College, where Schaap was the chancellor until he was relieved of his duties. “We don’t expect charges to be filed against him (with regard to statutory rape).”
A shaken, soft-spoken Deacon Terry Duff, who chairs the church’s Board of Deacons, vowed during a news conference held at the church’s administration building Wednesday that the church is cooperating with all authorities and refuses to cover up any wrongdoing.
“We’re not defending wrong; we’re defending right,” Duff said. “We’re committed to finding the whole truth no matter what the consequences to First Baptist Church.”
Duff said he was made aware of the misconduct last Wednesday, though he later said it was last Monday, and, after two or three meetings with the board, confronted Schaap, 54, Saturday afternoon. He declined to go into the conversation between them but said Schaap was relieved of all duties, including his chancellorship of Hyles-Anderson College and as church pastor.
Duff, who said he and several other church officials were about to step into a conference call with the sheriff’s office immediately after the news conference, said he could release nothing further about the investigation at this time but said the situation has been “gut-wrenching.”
“We love that man, and we trusted him,” he said. “This is a tough time for his family, and a lot of pastors all over the country are coming to his aid.”
The deacon said he doesn’t know where Schaap is at the moment but that Schaap is trying to reconcile with his wife, Cindy Schaap, the youngest daughter of long-time church leader, the late Jack Hyles. The Schaaps have been married for more than 30 years, Duff said.
Because First Baptist Church is an independent fundamentalist Baptist church, there’s no specific governing body that would prevent or allow Schaap to continue with pastoral duties, nor would the church have any say-so in whether he could become a pastor at another church, Wilson said. For now, however, the church is most interested in helping the girl and her family heal.
A clue to Schaap’s emotional state prior to his firing may be discerned in a video taken during a July 8 sermon he gave. The video has been taken down but a transcript is available at http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/07/lasts-gasps. Entitled “What Mom and Dad Don’t Know Will Hurt Him,” Schaap told the congregation that its children were coming to him and telling him about their sexual experiences, and he accused the parents of being “dirty themselves.”
“And when your teenager goes through adolescence and they start changing, and Daddy, you don’t want to touch her anymore, you know you don’t want to hug her anymore; trust me, she’s got a boyfriend lined up who’ll be happy to touch her,” Schaap said in the video. “I was one of those little kids that went to a public school … I watched sex take place in the junior high hallway, but I was a virgin when I got married.”
He continued: “Do you know how many times your daughter sneaks out in the wee hours of the morning to have sex with her boyfriend? ‘Well, not my daughter.’ I’ll take pictures for ya.”