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Former Hammond megachurch pastor released from prison early

by staff

A former Hammond Baptist megachurch preacher convicted of a sex crime was released early from federal prison on May 4, U.S. Bureau of Prisons records show.

Former First Baptist Church Rev. Jack Schaap, 64, was serving a 12-year federal sentence since his March 2013 conviction for taking a 16-year-old girl, a parishioner he was counseling, across state lines to Illinois and Michigan for sex.

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His original release date was Feb. 2, 2023.

A judge last rejected Schaap’s bid for early release in February 2021, saying he expressed little remorse for his actions and would continue to pose a danger to others. Schaap argued he caught COVID in prison and wanted to take care of his ailing parents in Michigan.

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He has “repeatedly couched his apologies and admissions in excuses, suggesting a deep-rooted failure to accept full responsibility for his actions,” U.S. District Court Judge James T. Moody wrote.

In the past, Schaap blamed other factors including the girl’s “sexual aggressiveness” and “experience,” he said.

Moody noted Schaap was “entrusted” with counseling the girl after she was caught having sex with a teen boy. She had been a member of the church since age 5, he said.

Instead, prosecutors alleged Schaap groomed her for a sexual relationship.

Schaap “took advantage of his position of power, his relative age, and the victim’s vulnerability … over a span of months,” Moody wrote.

Schaap was First Baptist Church of Hammond Pastor Jack Hyles’ son-in-law. He became pastor after Jack Hyles died in 2001. He was fired in 2012 after church staff found photos of Schaap’s relationship with the girl and it was reported to police, documents said.

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