Judge Denies Shorter Sentence For Ex-Pastor

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August 27, 2014 — The Associated Press — A federal judge in Hammond rejected a request by a former pastor of a local mega-church that his 12-year prison sentence for having sex with a teenaged girl be reduced.

Judge Rudy Lozano also denied Jack Schaap’s request for a hearing on his motions and denied him a certificate to appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Schaap was pastor of the 15,000-member First Baptist Church of Hammond for 11 years when he was fired in 2012.  He pleaded guilty in September 2012 to taking a 16-year-old parishioner, who was also a student at the church’s school and under Schaap’s care for counseling, across state lines for sex three times.

The sentence that Schaap received was two years longer than the 10-year sentence that federal prosecutors agreed to recommend in a plea agreement.

Schaap then filed a motion earlier this year asking to have his sentence vacated because he claimed his original attorneys had promised that Lozano would sentence him at most 10 years in prison and most likely only a few years.

The charge comes with a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, however. Lozano noted in his latest order that he thoroughly questioned Schaap on the issue during Schaap’s change of plea hearing, including on whether he understood that the final sentence was up to the judge.

Schaap had also argued that his original attorneys gave him ineffective counsel by not arguing that his victim, who Schaap had been counseling because of a sexual relationship she had with a boyfriend, shared part of the blame for their relationship.

Lozano noted in his decision issued Tuesday that evidence rules would have denied this argument anyway and that Lozano would not have looked favorably upon anything “blaming the victim.”



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