Schaap Sentencing…Attorneys Call It “A Difficult Day”
A federal court judge sent former First Baptist Church of Hammond pastor Jack Schaap to 12 years behind bars for having a sexual relationship with an underage church member and taking her across state lines. The Lakeshore’s Renetta DuBose has reaction to the sentencing judge’s decision.
Renetta: Defense attorneys for disgraced First Baptist Church of Hammond pastor Jack Schaap left court struggling to find words after Judge Rudy Lozano sentenced Schaap to 12 years in prison.
Paul Stracci: It’s a difficult day. I don’t know if you’ve ever done anything like this, but it’s difficult.
Paul Stracci and Alison Benjamin argued that Schaap was under extreme stress and suffered from exhaustion…depression and burn-out due to financial challenges at the church during the month long time-period he engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor. Court documents filed by the United States Attorney’s office show that Schaap complained of prostate problems but say that alleged health issues and stress were not valid complaints. About 30 to 40 people stood outside Judge Lozano’s packed courtroom during the two hour sentencing. A friend of the Schaap family says they were hopeful the judge would give Schapp less time. He also shared what Schaap told the court during sentencing.
Scott Pryor: He wishes healing to all involved. His former church family, the victim and her family and his own family.
Renetta DuBose & MOS: Do you feel justice was served today? Yes…. Kind of…. Yes.
Court documents show that Schaap initiated a majority of the more than 600 text messages and 25 phone calls with the victim he claimed to have been counseling. He also transported her to Illinois and Michigan during June and July of 2012. In one handwritten letter Schaap wrote: …”you have affectionately spoken of being ‘my wife.’ that is exactly what christ desires for us.”
MOS: Nobody should be abused. Children shouldn’t be abused. People should know the truth. Nobody should be a victim and have people take advantage of them like that.
Paul Stracci: He accepts absolute responsibility for what happened. The buck stops with him.
Schaap will be required to serve a minimum of 85 percent of his 12 year sentence.
A spokesperson from First Baptist Church of Hammond, Eddie Wilson, says the justice system was and is fair. The spokesperson also says they selected a new pastor and look forward to his leadership in the days ahead.