The former pastor of a northwestern Indiana mega-church was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for having an inappropriate relationship with a minor from his church.
Jack Schaap, 55, the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, admitted in September to three sexual encounters with a girl when she was 16. He told the court at the time he wasn't aware he was breaking the law.
Federal prosecutors included letters Schaap wrote to his victim in their sentencing memorandum filed last week in federal court. One of the letters reportedly said their relationship "is exactly what Christ desires for us."
Schaap was fired by the 15,000-member Hammond church in July and later pleaded guilty to taking a minor across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
The church's board of deacons said Schaap admitted to the relationship at the end of July and was dismissed. "It was starting to be a difficult decision," said Board of Deacons Chairman Jerry Duff at the time, "but when we found out the facts, we had no choice. We had to do what was right."