Megachurch pastor Jack Schaap, who was convicted in 2011 on charges of child molestation with an underage girl, is hoping to have his 12-year sentence overturned, claiming that he was a victim of the girl’s “aggressiveness” and that she “inhibited [his] impulse control.”
The risky defense was uncovered in new court documents by NWITimes.com. Schaap was a former minister of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, a congregation of around 15,000 members.
Schaap, a married father of two at the time, pleaded guilty to “transporting a female student of the church’s high school to Illinois and Michigan for sexual encounters,” the site noted. “He also had sex with her in his church office here in June and July 2012.”
If the megachurch pastor fails to convince the judge of his underage victim’s aggressiveness, then he will likely stay at the correctional facility in Ashland, Kentucky, until April 20, 2023.
Schaap’s attorney, Charles Murray, filed a court memorandum asking to present new evidence and portraying the girl, 16 years old at the time of the sexual encounters with Schaap, as having “had prior extensive sexual experience” in addition to using alcohol and marijuana.
“No doubt exists that (Schaap) should have resisted (her) advances, but (Schaap) submits his actions did not serve to destroy (her) in the manner that often occurs when underage individuals are victimized,” Murray states.
As for Schaap’s old employer, they are “standing with the court.”
“We stand with the court on the judgment,” said Ed Lapina, First Baptist’s administrative pastor. “We felt the court was very fair and just in its judgment.”
Lapina also noted that rumors the megachurch told the girl and her family to stay away from services were false.
“That is basically Facebook folklore,” he said. “They are as welcome here as I am. They have chosen not to come back. We are fine with that, but the church has no animosity toward them. I wrote them a letter of apology a few months ago.”
Lapina continued: “The girl was a troubled girl. Her past was a tough past. She came here for help and that should have been our goal. It should have been (Schaap’s) goal. That didn’t end up happening, and so he is taking responsibility for that now with his prison term.”
As for the girl, she hasn’t issued comment beyond what she said at the time of Schaap’s conviction: “(Schaap) violated my trust. But when it was being violated, I didn’t even know it because he made me believe what we were doing was OK and right in the eyes of God. When I asked him if it was wrong, he told me no and that I was his precious gift from God. I felt so special when he texted me from the holy altar during his sermons.”
(Court docs show that Schaap did text the girl — as much as 662 times in one month.)
Do you think the megachurch pastor got the appropriate sentence, or was he “a victim” as he claims?