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Ex-pastor of Hammond church seeks to reduce 12-year sentence

Updated: August 9, 2014 6:21AM



Federal prosecutors are fighting an attempt by Jack Schaap, former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, to overturn his sentence, contending that Schaap testified under oath that no one made him any promises about his sentence.

Schaap was sentenced in March 2013 to 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to taking a 16-year-old female parishioner, also a student at the church’s school, to Illinois and Michigan and engaging in sex with her.

Schaap has filed a motion to vacate the sentence, arguing that his attorneys at the time promised him he would serve no more than 10 years in prison and likely only a few years.

The charge to which Schaap pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, according to the prosecutors’ response to Schaap’s motion.

The response includes several excerpts from Schaap’s September 2012 plea hearing, at which U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano quizzed him about whether he understood that the government was going to recommend a 10-year sentence but that the judge did not have to follow that recommendation. The judge also questioned Schaap as to whether anyone had made him promises about what his sentence would be.

“At no time during the change of plea hearing did (Schaap) express confusion regarding the minimum sentence he faced or suggest (as he conveniently does now) that he believed 10 years to be the maximum,” the government says in its filing.

Schaap also claims his sentence violates his constitutional rights because it is cruel and unusual punishment, and the sentence should be reduced because the girl was sexually experienced.

Federal trial rules prohibit evidence about a victim’s sexual past in such a case, and a defendant cannot use that as a defense in the case of a minor, according to the government’s response, which also notes that Schaap’s 12-year term is two years less than the 14 years that federal sentencing guidelines recommend for such an offense.



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