HAMMOND | Letters in support of former First Baptist Church of Hammond pastor Jack Schaap continue to arrive at the desk of U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano, who will sentence Schaap on March 20 for having sex with a 16-year-old church member.
Schaap, 55, is seeking a sentence less than the federal minimum of 10 years in prison, having admitted to three sexual encounters with the girl.
Wesley Wilson, of Crown Point, added to the numerous letters from friends, family and church members in the court’s possession Thursday. Wilson, a former student of Schaap’s at Hyles-Anderson College, became a teacher in First Baptist’s school system, and after six years of teaching joined the staff at First Baptist.
In describing his relationship with Schaap, which dates back to 1987 during his time at Hyles-Anderson, Wilson said community outreach increased substantially once Schaap became pastor.
“Due to the fact I work at the church, I was privy to donation records,” Wilson said. “I know for a fact that he (Schaap) led the church in giving both in missions and the church’s building fund. He has always set the example of what he felt God wanted us to be as individuals, neighbors and as Christians.”
He discussed a change in philosophy concerning the local community once Schaap became pastor.
“This was made clear as he started a public high school ministry, as he hired a children’s pastor to directly support the Hammond public grade school and as the church’s teenagers became involved in several community events such as clean up Hammond days,” Wilson said.
Wilson didn’t condone Schaap’s actions, noting the damage it did to the young girl and many others, but said his “love” for him and his family has not changed. He didn’t necessarily ask that Schaap be given a reduced sentence, but asked that the sentencing be considered with “justice, understanding and grace.”