Jack Schaap, the inestimably creepy pastor who was fired from his sermonizing gig at the First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana last summer after church members discovered he was having a sexual relationship with a then 16-year-old girl, is awaiting sentencing this fine Thursday. If those bare facts aren't enough outrage fodder for you, however, consider this: Schaap, with a feat of moral elasticity that only true hypocrites are capable of, claimed in one of several letters he wrote to the victim during his crime that their relationship was an essential part of her personal salvation and sanctioned by Jesus himself.
The Post-Tribune reports that federal prosecutors in Schaap's case included his letters in the government's sentencing memorandum for Schaap, filed Wednesday evening in the U.S. District Court in Hammond. In the letters, Schaap often pats himself on the back for a job well-done in helping save his underage parishioner from self destruction and place her on the "better path of living - that's what we call Righteousness." By using Jesus imagery to manipulate her into having sex with him, for instance. His letters contain scores of tenuous deductions about the positive spiritual effects his orgasms have on the girl's prospects for salvation:
In our ‘fantasy talk,' you have affectionately spoken of being ‘my wife.' That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!
Somehow, Schaap's shorthand "+" for both makes this excerpt infinitely creepier. In another letter, Schaap, most likely referring to a three-day trip he took the girl on his cabin in Cadillac, Mich., discusses how he wants three days worth of alone time to show the girl how important she is to Jesus. Ick.
The girl and her family wrote several heartbreaking letters to the court, detailing the ramifications of the relationship, as well as the many insidious ways Schaap exploited his influence as a pastor to encourage the girl to confide in and trust him. One such letter asserts:
He told me to confide in him, to trust him, and he made me feel safe and comfortable around him as a man of God. (Schaap) preyed on that trust and my vulnerability.
Another letter the girl wrote to Schaap recounts the shock she experienced when Schaap first kissed her and subsequently assured her that it was totally okay: "You told me that I was sent to you from God, I was his gift to you." The girl also writes that she at first believed Schaap loved her, and was reluctant to admit that he had victimized her. In the wake of the affair and subsequent trial, the girl has had to transfer schools, and her family insists that it isn't safe for them to return to the church.
Schaap has pleaded guilty to "causing the girl to be transported to Illinois and Michigan last year for a sexual relationship," and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster said in the sentencing memorandum that Schaap had been "grooming" the girl since April 2012 after an administrator at the girl's (church-affiliated) school contacted Schaap about how the girl seemed in need of guidance. Koster has defended the government's agreement to recommend a 10-year sentence for Schaap.
Preacher: Sex with 17-year-old was Lord's work [Post-Tribune]