A pastor at a mega-church says health and financial woes led to his sexual relationship with a 16-year-old church member.
Jack Schaap, 54, had been pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond in Indiana for 11 years, but was let go in July after a deacon saw a text on his phone from the teenager, allegedly with a picture of the two of them kissing.
He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in September to transporting a minor across state lines for sexual relations.
In a new court filing, he says he was stressed out and depressed at the time that the month-long relationship started. Donations to his church were down and he said he had to lay off employees and was working up to 100 hours a week, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Schaap met the victim through that extra work, which included counseling students at First Baptist's schools, he said.
The court filing, which is to be considered with his sentencing, included 140 letters of support from family and church members.
'We were known for our happy marriage, and it was not a hypocrisy; it was real,' Jack Schaap’s wife, Cindy, said in a letter.
In the September plea agreement, Schaap admitted that he had sex with the girl, who turned 17 a week after the relationship started. He also admitted that he used a computer to persuade the girl to have sex with him illegally.
The relationship lasted from June 1, 2012 to July 30, 2012, during which he traveled with her from Indiana to Illinois to Michigan, 'with the intent that she engage in sexual activity', according to the Chicago Tribune.
The legal age of consent in the state of Indiana is 16, the lowest age allowed in any state.
Jack Schapp's published books include Marriage: The Divine Intimacy and Dating with a Purpose: Common Sense Dating Principles for Couples, Parents, and Youth Workers.
The pastor has received his fair share of criticism over the years due to some of his more controversial teachings.
Last year, he was chastised for his views on women, believing them to be an inferior species and saying husbands should take charge of their wives and blasted Eve as being the sinner.
He also said it would be a 'cold day in hell before I get my theology from a woman', adding: "Your soul is going to hell because of what Eve did."