Tag Archives: Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Churches

Ex-megachurch pastor blames underage victim, wants out of prison

Ex-megachurch pastor blames underage victim, wants out of prison
By Bill Dolan on June 3, 2014
https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/ex-megachurch-pastor-blames-underage-victim-wants-out-of-prison/article_2ae9324b-eacf-546e-9f73-c12147f5726f.html

A former minister of First Baptist Church of Hammond is gambling he can get out of prison by branding as a seductress the underage girl he molested.

Jack A. Schaap, 56, is asking a federal judge to overturn his 12-year sentence “due to the aggressiveness of (the girl) that inhibited impulse control …”

It is a risky strategy that may backfire with U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano, who sentenced Schaap last year and would hear the new petition, according to veteran local defense attorneys.

“Judge Lozano may give him more time,” said one lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous.

Schaap pleaded guilty to transporting a female student of the church’s high school to Illinois and Michigan for sexual encounters. He also had sex with her in his church office here in June and July 2012. 

He is being held in the Federal Correctional Institute in Ashland, Ky., and he isn’t eligible for release until April 20, 2023.

His sentence was two years above the penalty agreed to by the U.S. attorney’s office and Schaap’s lawyer at the time, Paul Stracci, of Merrillville. The judge wasn’t bound by that or the recommended sentencing guideline in the case, which ranged above 17 years.

Nevertheless, Schaap’s attorney, Charles Murray, of Bonita Springs, Fla., has filed a court memorandum asking to present new evidence and portraying the girl, who was age 16 at the beginning of her sexual encounters with Schaap, as having “had prior extensive sexual experience” in addition to using alcohol and marijuana.

Murray argues, “No doubt exists that (Schaap) should have resisted (her) advances, but (Schaap) submits his actions did not serve to destroy (her) in the manner that often occurs when underage individuals are victimized.”

Schaap’s new pleading doesn’t sit well with his former megachurch.

“We stand with the court on the judgment,” Ed Lapina, First Baptist’s administrative pastor, said Tuesday. “We felt the court was very fair and just in its judgment.

Lapina said he wanted to clear up false rumors circulating last year that the victim’s family, longtime church members, were told to stay away from church services.

“That is basically Facebook folklore. They are as welcome here as I am. They have chosen not to come back. We are fine with that, but the church has no animosity toward them. I wrote them a letter of apology a few months ago. 

“The girl was a troubled girl. Her past was a tough past. She came here for help and that should have been our goal. It should have been (Schaap’s) goal. That didn’t end up happening, and so he is taking responsibility for that now with his prison term,” Lapina said.

Stracci, Schaap’s former attorney, declined comment Tuesday on the new petition. Neither Murray nor the U.S. attorney’s office returned calls seeking comment.

Schaap’s memorandum is in sharp contrast with earlier comments he was pleading guilty to spare his victim the trauma of a public trial and that he should be blamed for the crime, not others.

Schaap, a married man with two children, was pastor of a church that had the loyalty of 15,000 members. The victim’s parents told the court they believed their daughter was safe going to the church and its schools, which she had done since kindergarten.

The father is quoted in a court document stating, “The rule of our house was that the pastor was God’s representative on Earth. Always do what the pastor says.”

The government stated the girl was referred to Schaap by a school administrator after she had trouble coping with a troubled relationship with a younger man.

The girl wrote in her victim impact statement, “I was raised by my parents and teachers to trust and obey my pastor. He was a celebrity to me, a father figure and a man of God. As my pastor, I sought guidance and counseling from (Schaap) when I was in need of help.”

Federal authorities said their private counseling sessions increased in number, length and intimacy.

The girl wrote, “(Schaap) violated my trust. But when it was being violated, I didn’t even know it because he made me believe what we were doing was OK and right in the eyes of God. When I asked him if it was wrong, he told me no and that I was his precious gift from God. I felt so special when he texted me from the holy altar during his sermons.”

The government said they texted each other 637 times during the month before a member of Schaap’s staff discovered incriminating photographs of the two, church officials fired him and called in authorities.

Jill Koster, assistant U.S. attorney in the case, said in a sentencing memorandum last year, “The government submits that any 16- to 17-year-old girl placed in the victim’s vulnerable shoes and showered with attention and affection from (Schaap) whom she practically been taught to worship would have ended up in exactly the same position as the victim in this case, in love with (Schaap), the ultimate hypocrite.”

Lozano on Tuesday gave the U.S. attorney’s office until July 3 to file its response. Schaap will then have until Aug. 4 to file any reply to prosecutors’ response.

‘The ultimate hypocrite’

Jill Koster, assistant U.S. attorney, in a sentencing memorandum last year called Jack A. Schaap “the ultimate hypocrite.” Schaap, 56, is asking a federal judge to overturn his 12-year sentence “due to the aggressiveness of (the girl) that inhibited impulse control …”

Judge denies Schaap’s request to overturn 12-year prison sentence

Judge denies Schaap’s request to overturn 12-year prison sentence
By Jim Masters, Times Correspondent on August 26, 2014
https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/judge-denies-schaap-s-request-to-overturn–year-prison/article_98cd3adc-0e9e-5f08-a1e6-50186c2bc3a5.html

A federal judge denied a petition from Jack Schaap, former First Baptist Church of Hammond pastor, to overturn his 12-year prison sentence for sexually abusing a 16-year-old church member.

U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano issued the ruling Tuesday. Lozano dismissed Schaap’s claims that his attorney ineffectively advised him during plea agreement and sentencing proceedings.

Schaap contended his attorney advised him the sentence would be a maximum of 120 months if he pleaded guilty, more likely between three and four years, and perhaps as low as 18 months. Schaap testified he did not realize his actions with the girl were illegal, which included driving the girl from Illinois to Michigan to engage in sexual activity.

Furthermore, the court advised Schaap he would waive his right to an appeal by accepting the plea agreement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster argued Schaap’s claims contradict statements he made during sentencing proceedings in which “he acknowledged he faced a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.”

Offering an outside opinion on the matter, Gail Riplinger, a noted religious author, scholar and lecturer, wrote a letter to Lozano disputing Schaap’s claim he did not have proper legal counsel. She claimed Schaap had free legal advice at his disposal through the Christian Law Association, and personally knew Schaap’s had a close association with some members of its legal staff.

“I must conclude that Jack Schaap likely has more close personal friends who are lawyers than anyone who has ever appeared before you as a defendant,” Riplinger wrote. “No doubt they were all just a phone call away to clarify any questions he may have had. Most of us have not had the privilege of having a cadre of close friends who are attorneys, but Schaap certainly has many such close associations.”

Riplinger adds that given Schaap’s level of literacy — noting numerous books authored by him for sale on Amazon.com, as well as his (doctorate) level of education — (his) “assertion that he could not understand the words regarding the sentencing seems preposterous.”

Schaap presided over a faith-based empire of thousands of worshipers belonging to Hammond’s downtown “mega-church” and as president of Hyles-Anderson College. His inappropriate relationship with the teen was reportedly discovered when a church deacon caught a glimpse of a cellphone picture of Schaap and the girl kissing.

Schaap is serving his sentence at a federal penitentiary in Ashland, Ky.

Past Hammond Baptist pastor raped girl repeatedly, federal lawsuit alleges

Past Hammond Baptist pastor raped girl repeatedly, federal lawsuit alleges
By Bill Dolan February 18, 2020
https://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/past-hammond-baptist-pastor-raped-girl-repeatedly-federal-lawsuit-alleges/article_cbdb157d-72ce-5179-85a9-b363b4d1a255.html

An Indiana woman is suing the First Baptist Church of Hammond, alleging its youth minister repeatedly raped her as a teen girl in the late 1970s.

Joy Ryder, who now runs a support group for sex abuse victims, said she is trying to win justice not only for herself, but others similarly abused by the fundamentalist movement’s clergy over the decades.

She alleges officials of the church and Hyles-Anderson College put her at the mercy of David Hyles, son of the church’s charismatic leader, the late Jack Hyles.

She said once her family accused David Hyles of sexual abuse, the church covered up his wrongdoings.

Ryder, who spoke this week with The Times and gave permission to identify her by name, said the federal lawsuit is the only way left to hold church officials publicly accountable.

“You couldn’t go up against their authority. (David Hyles) told me that nobody would believe me,” she said.

She said the statute of limitations has passed on criminal charges, and the church hierarchy has repeatedly refused to respond to her accusations.

Her attorney, Robert Montgomery, filed a civil suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

It alleges David Hyles, Hyles-Anderson College in Schererville and the First Baptist Church of Hammond violated state and local law as defined by the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute.

Neither David Hyles, who now is affiliated with a different church out of state, nor a spokesperson for the First Baptist Church of Hammond, were immediately available for comment Tuesday.

The new lawsuit marks the latest in a history of civil and criminal accusations of sexual abuse of underage girls made against officials of the church, which was founded in 1887.

A Lake Criminal court jury convicted A.V. Ballenger, a deacon of the Hammond Baptist Church, almost three decades ago of fondling a 7-year-old girl in the summer of 1991 in her Sunday school class.

Jack Schaap, a son-in-law Hammond Baptist church founder, the late Jack Hyles, was pastor of Hammond Baptist Church and a married man with two children when he pleaded guilty in 2012 to transporting a teen female student of the church’s high school to Illinois and Michigan for sexual encounters. Schaap also had sex with the underage victim in his church office earlier that year, according to court filings.

Schaap, 62, is being held in the Federal Correctional Institute in Ashland, Ky., and he isn’t eligible for release until April 20, 2023.

In the case surrounding the recent lawsuit, Ryder said her parents were church members and employees when she was being raped by David Hyles, then the church’s youth minister and son of Jack Hyles.

She attended Hammond Baptist Schools and Hyles-Anderson College during the 1970s and early 1980s.

She said David Hyles was 25, and she was 14 when he began to pull her aside from church youth groups to flatter her, select her as a member of the church’s traveling music group and gain her trust.

The suit alleges Ryder became concerned about David Hyles stalking her with repeated calls to talk and be with him. It alleges that when this was brought to Jack Hyles’ attention, he responded that Ryder “wasn’t special” and his son “did that with everyone.”

Ryder said she was a high school sophomore when David Hyles first assaulted her in his office at the church’s youth ministry building in downtown Hammond.

The suit alleges David Hyles “pinned her to the floor in his office and raped her.”

The suit alleges: “Multiple other girls accused (David) Hyles of sexual misconduct, similarly, to no avail.”

The suit alleges David Hyles sexually abused Ryder more than 50 times over two years inside church buildings as well as other locations during her travels with the church music group.

The suit also alleges David Hyles once ordered her to his home when his wife was out of town and threatened to reveal her to the congregation as a “slut” and have her parents fired from their church employment.

The suit alleges that once she arrived at his house, he forced her to perform oral sex and later laughed, “Bet you didn’t expect that, did you?”

It alleges David Hyles secretly put drugs or alcohol in her food and drink to make her more compliant.

The suit alleges Ryder finally informed her parents of the rapes after two years and brought her father with her to a meeting with David Hyles to confront him.

It alleges that after their meeting, her father personally informed Jack Hyles of the son’s wrongdoing.

It alleges the church responded by giving her father a lucrative job at Hyles-Anderson college “in exchange for his silence and agreement not to take the allegations to law enforcement.”

The lawsuit also alleges the church then moved David Hyles to a church in Texas, where his father had previously been a pastor.

The suit alleges child rape and sexual abuse by all church clergy, including those of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist movement, “are widely known” and have led to numerous later investigations, trials and convictions.

David Hyles doesn’t face criminal sanctions, but Ryder’s civil suit seeks a monetary award for damages she has suffered. No trial date is set in the matter.

Ryder, who formed the non-profit support group, Out of the Shadows more than six years ago to help other victims of sex abuse, said her lawsuit against David Hyles and the Hammond Baptist Church is more than a personal demand for justice.

She said it is meant to encourage all who have been similarly victimized to stand up for their rights.