Jack Schaap, 64, was a pastor at First Baptist Church of Hammond, the largest Independent Fundamentalist Baptist congregation in the United States. He pleaded guilty to taking a 16-year-old girl across state lines for sex and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. It’s not clear exactly how he was released early, though federal inmates can now earn credit toward a faster release from prison by participating in programs aimed at reducing recidivism.
During the months leading up to his arrest in 2013, prosecutors accused Schaap of sexually exploiting a 16-year-old member of his congregation. The girl had trusted the church pastor with counseling sessions, but Schaap took advantage of her vulnerability and began pursuing a sexual relationship with her. He sent her text messages 662 times in one month and spent time with her at his home in Illinois and at his cabin in Michigan. He also convinced her to travel from Indiana to Illinois and then to Michigan.
Two years ago, Schaap petitioned the court for compassionate release from prison so he could care for his elderly parents, but the judge denied the request, arguing that his crime was so grotesque that he deserved to serve his full sentence. It is unclear if he has returned to his church or if he has another job. He has been seen golfing and attending family events with children, but it’s not clear if he is volunteering or on the payroll of any church.