Pastor charged with sex with teen says he ‘was not aware of law’
By Teresa Auch SChultz firstname.lastname@example.org September 26, 2012 5:01PM
Jack Schaap, former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 29, 2012 6:36AM
Jack Alan Schaap, the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, said Wednesday that he didn’t know he was committing a crime when he transported a minor girl across state lines for sexual activity.
“I was not aware of the law,” he said during his change of plea hearing at the U.S. District Court in Hammond.
He did say, however, that he was aware it was unprofessional conduct and a sin.
Schaap, 54, of Dyer, 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, Ill., 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 that he engaged in sexual activities with the girl.
Not only was Schaap the girl’s pastor, he said, but he was superintendent of the private school connected to First Baptist that she attended and 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 call records and testimony from the victim and other witnesses.
Schaap faces up to life in prison on the charge. However, federal prosecutors have said in the plea agreement that 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 light 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 Sheriff’s Department.