Megachurch pastor admits taking minor across state line for sexual activity, says he was 'unaware' of law

Chicago Post-Tribune/September 26, 2012

The former pastor of Hammond's megachurch said he knew it was a sin to bring a young girl he was counseling across state lines for sexual activity — but he didn't know he was committing a crime.

"I was not aware of the law," Jack Schaap, dressed in orange prison garb, told a judge Wednesday as he pleaded guilty.

Schaap, 54, was the pastor of the 15,000-member First Baptist Church of Hammond until he was fired this summer because of the affair.

Although Schaap said he didn't know it was against the law, he did concede in court it was unprofessional conduct and a sin.

Schaap, of Dyer, was charged last week with taking someone under the age of 18 across state lines with the intent of having sexual activity and ordered held without bond. On Wednesday, he described the three trips he and the teen took, starting on June 20.

Not only was Schaap the girl's pastor, he said, but he was superintendent of the private school connected to First Baptist that she attended and was counseling her at the time of the crime.

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