HAMMOND | Defrocked First Baptist Church of Hammond Pastor Jack Schaap is acting as his own attorney for the time being as he attempts to get his sentence for having sex with a minor overturned.
Schaap wrote U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano from a federal prison in Ashland, Ky., where he is serving a 12-year federal sentence, notifying him he is in the process of seeking post-conviction relief. Schaap plans to file a “memorandum of law” with the court once he hires a new lawyer. As such, he’s seeking an extension of time to prepare and file the legal pleading.
Schaap filed a motion earlier in the week requesting the court set aside his sentence for traveling across state lines for sex with a 16-year-old church member he was counseling. Schaap claims his defense attorney falsely represented to him the likely length of his sentence in pleading guilty to the felony sex charge, according to court documents.
He also claims his attorney was “ineffectual” during sentencing proceedings in failing to put forth mitigating factors.
Schaap’s memorandum cities case law from Florida and Alabama to bolster his case. His legal brief offers Sixth Amendment considerations pursuant to the right to effective counsel. He contends a sentence of 18 to 120 months would have been more appropriate under federal sentencing guidelines, among other considerations.
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, named for church patriarch Jack Hyles. Schaap, 55, a father of two, is married to Hyles' daughter.
On entering his guilty plea, Schaap told Judge Lozano he did not realize his actions with the girl were illegal, which included having the girl driven from Illinois to Michigan to engage in sexual activity with her.
Previously, in making a case for a lenient sentence, Schaap said during the four-week period the sexual encounters took place he was “simultaneously suffering extreme stress, exhaustion, depression, burn-out and several other medical maladies,” and that as a younger man he suffered a three-year period of depression.
Schaap's 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.
If the court denies vacating his sentence, Schaap requests an evidentiary hearing on the matter — with the aid of an attorney.