Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, is awaiting sentencing for having relations with a 17 year old girl, who was one of his parishioners.
Schapp is facing at least 10 years in prison with an additional 10 years of supervision upon release. He will be sentenced on March 20.
Schapp who was terminated by his church in July last year, crossed three state lines in the process of committing his crime. He also allegedly told the girl that Jesus Christ approved of their tryst. Federal prosecutors included letters form Schapp that were written to his victim in their sentencing memorandum.
According to The Times of Munster, Schapp, wrote in one letter to the underage girl that their relationship “is exactly what Christ desires for us.”
“You opened your heart wide to me – you made me more than a Pastor/Rescuer – you made me your friend your confidant, your beloved. You gave me your trust, your heart, your love, + your affection,” Schapp wrote in messages to the girl, according the 23-page document shared by the Tribune.
In another text reportedly referencing a counseling session with the girl, Schapp wrote, “You have affectionately spoken of being ‘my wife.’ That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!”
Schapp had relations with the girl in his office at the church in July 2012, while a youth conference was occurring on the premises, as was alleged during the case. A church deacon found a text message on Schapp’s cell phone that included a photo of him and the girl kissing, bringing the relationship to light.
Schaap’s attorney and state prosecutors worked out a plea deal after the married father of two pleaded guilty last year to the federal offense, although he claimed he had no idea that it was illegal to transport the minor, an FBC member who was 16 at the time, out of state to sleep with her.
Schapp said during court hearings that “extreme stress, exhaustion, depression, burn-out and several other medical maladies” were a result of working over 100 hours every week.
“Yes, he was under a tremendous amount of stress such as anyone who runs an international ministry. However, this does not excuse his behavior,” said Eddie Wilson, a spokesperson for the church.
Times have certainly changed when it comes to relationships between young women and older men. A century ago, it was common for older men to date women in their teens. But as times have changed, so has our society. Schaap’s choices have led to the demise of many pastors and prominent men.