Church doesn’t expect charges against fired pastor
By Michelle L. Quinn Sun-Times Media email@example.com August 1, 2012 8:52PM
Pastor Jack Schaap speaks at the First Baptist Church of Hammond in 2006. | Post-Tribune
Updated: September 3, 2012 1:27PM
Officials at a northwest Indiana megachurch acknowledged that their fired pastor was being investigated for alleged misconduct with a 17-year-old church member but said he broke no law.
No charges were expected against Pastor Jack Schaap for his involvement with an underage girl, according to an official of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, but the church was cooperating with authorities.
Lake County Sheriff John Buncich’s office, along with the FBI’s Merrillville office, was continuing the investigation into Schaap’s alleged misconduct, according to a news release Wednesday from the sheriff’s office.
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 wasn’t a student at Hyles-Anderson College in Schererville, where Schaap was the chancellor until he was relieved of his duties. “We don’t expect charges to be filed against him.”
At a news conference Wednesday, Terry Duff, chairman of the church’s board of deacons, said the church was cooperating with authorities and refused 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. After meeting with the board, he confronted Schaap, 54, Saturday afternoon.
Duff said the situation has been “gut-wrenching.”
“We love that man, and we trusted him,” Duff said. “This is a tough time for his family.”
Duff said Schaap was trying to reconcile with his wife, Cindy , the youngest daughter of former church leader Jack Hyles.
Church officials said they were committed to “calling into the light” any further misdeeds against the congregation’s young people. During a Wednesday evening service, they asked members to come forward with any information they may have.
Eddie Lapina, the interim pastor, said the church is offering pastoral counseling to members. He said the church has brought in David Gibbs, head of the Christian Law Association, to assist with the church’s investigation of Schaap’s actions.
“I promise you that we’ll see to it that there are no lies,” Lapina said.