Church spokesman says no charges expected against Schaap

2012-08-01T21:10:00Z 2014-06-03T07:17:38Z Church spokesman says no charges expected against SchaapChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | First Baptist Church of Hammond plans to conduct its own investigation to learn whether the situation that led to the dismissal of Jack Schaap is isolated, a church spokesman confirmed at a news conference Wednesday.

But church spokesman Eddie Wilson said the church does not expect there to be charges filed in the incident. Church leaders were meeting with prosecutors Wednesday afternoon to confirm information, Wilson said.

"We are in the process of doing that right now, setting up a team to make sure that every little detail is investigated," Wilson said.

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Wednesday an investigation by his department and the FBI against Schaap remains ongoing.

Buncich said the department is looking into allegations "involving alleged misconduct with a juvenile." He said the investigative team is conducting interviews, gathering statements and other evidence. He said church officials have cooperated fully.

Wilson said the girl involved in the situation is close to the age of 18. He also confirmed she was at least 16, which is the age of consent in Indiana, during the course of the incident.

The First Baptist Church of Hammond announced Tuesday its deacon board had dismissed Schaap as its pastor for sinful behavior that involved adultery and physically inappropriate behavior.

Terry Duff, chairman of the Board of Deacons, said the church is committed to finding out the total truth.

He said he spoke with Schaap about the incident Saturday afternoon and that all information has been turned over to law enforcement conducting the investigation.

"No wrongdoing will be covered up," Duff said Wednesday in front of the church's administrative offices. "The minute we found out about this, we responded."

The church is making available pastoral counseling services to the girl's family, Wilson said. The girl is a member of the church but is not a student, nor is she affiliated with Hyles-Anderson College, as was previously reported.

"We are committed to finding out the total truth," Duff said. "We are going to do what is right no matter what the cost or consequences to First Baptist Church."

Currently, Schaap is attempting to reconcile with his wife, church officials said.

The 15,000-member congregation — one of the largest fundamental independent Baptist churches in the country — first elected Schaap their pastor in February 2001, a month after the late Rev. Jack Hyles died of a heart attack.

Schaap, 54, of St. John Township, is the son-in-law of Hyles, whose charismatic leadership of the church, beginning in 1959, helped grow it into a megachurch.

Times staff writer Bill Dolan contributed to this report.

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