Magazine, records show pattern of sex-related allegations at Hammond church

2012-12-17T20:00:00Z 2014-10-15T15:54:09Z Magazine, records show pattern of sex-related allegations at Hammond churchMarc Chase, (219) 662-5330
December 17, 2012 8:00 pm  • 

HAMMOND | The alleged sexual indiscretions of religious leaders associated with the First Baptist Church of Hammond didn't begin with the former head pastor's recent admission to having sex with a 16-year-old church girl.

That is the picture painted in both a newly published Chicago Magazine article and in court records pertaining to other criminal defendants affiliated with church leadership.

An article in the magazine's January 2013 edition characterizes the church's history as consisting of overbearing and authoritarian pastoral control of parishioners, sexual abuse and affairs and criminal cases involving church leaders and some of their affiliates.

Former head Pastor Jack Schaap, scheduled to be sentenced in Hammond federal court next month, faces 10 years in prison after admitting he had multiple sexual encounters in Illinois and Michigan with a 16-year-old church girl he was supposed to be counseling.

Beyond Schaap's troubles, the magazine also cites other allegations surrounding the church's deceased former leader Jack Hyles and as many as nine other pastoral leaders connected either to the megachurch or its affiliated Hyles-Anderson College, based in Schererville.

In the article titled "Let us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church," writer Bryan Smith relies on accounts of past church members, the dispositions of criminal cases and others close to the institution to tell the story.

The article characterizes Hyles as a cult-like leader who believed in the superiority of men over women and children and that those women and children were responsible for inciting mistreatment by men.

The article also recounts past allegations that Hyles carried on an extramarital relationship with a church secretary -- who was the wife of another church leader -- despite the institution's supposed strict doctrine on sex and infidelity. The affair has been referenced in past Times columns and articles.

Smith begins the Chicago Magazine article with parishioners' accounts of Schaap, who succeeded Hyles as the church patriarch, preaching a sermon to youth in July 2010 as he mimicked masturbation on a long stick used as a prop.

And the article also refers to the case of Chester Mulligan, a Hyles protege and former pastor of East Chicago's Central Baptist Church.

The Times chronicled several articles pertaining to Mulligan over the years, including his 2009 guilty plea in Lake Criminal Court to a charge of stalking a girl when she was between ages 15 and 18.

Mulligan admitted he continually harassed the victim over a three-year period. He also had been accused of having sex with the girl on multiple occasions, but those charges were dropped in a plea agreement with Lake County prosecutors.

The girl and her family belonged to Central Baptist Church in East Chicago, where Mulligan was a pastor. Mulligan resigned from Central Baptist in December 2001.

A former Green Beret and Canadian citizen, Mulligan was nearly deported in 2001 after he had problems regaining his green card to live in the United States.

The Times wrote several stories in late 2000 and early 2001 -- predating the sexual allegations -- about Mulligan's attempt to become a U.S. citizen.

Mulligan is listed as the current pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Miami, Fla., on that church's website.

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