An Indiana pastor confessed during church services to adultery years ago, but prosecutors are investigating after the woman who was involved told congregants she had been only 16 years old at the time.
Pastor John Lowe II livestreamed the confession from inside the New Life Christian Church on Sunday, and he told parishioners that he "committed adultery" nearly two decades ago, adding that he wasn't disciplined and would not "use the Bible" to defend himself, reported WNDU-TV.
“I have no defense," he said. "I committed the adultery."
Lowe announced he was stepping down from “ministry responsibilities" and asked for forgiveness, to which the congregation applauded, and the woman then admonished the pastor with her husband standing alongside her in the church.
"People knew, but were too afraid to come forward, and they have now," she said. "The lies and the manipulation they have to stop. I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that? I know you do, and I have plenty of other stories that I can bring to your remembrance. You did things to my teenage body that should have never been done."
The woman said other girls were abused by church leaders, but they were "sent away."
"I tried to tell someone, but all that was done was cover-up," she said. "No one ever came to me. No one ever got me counseling."
The woman's husband then gave back a necklace the ministry had given his wife as a gift and the purity ring she wore as a teenager.
"My wife -- it’s not just adultery, it’s another level when it’s a teenager, and I will not let this man talk about my wife like that," the man said. "It happened for nine years. When she was 15, 16, the sexual grooming started. It lasted until she met me and we started dating. This is the truth and that’s all we’re going to say.”
Other congregants hugged them as the couple left the church, and several voices demanded that Lowe admit to the abuse.
"Sixteen years old, okay?" Lowe said. "It was wrong."
The Kosciusko County prosecutor's office confirmed that allegations against Lowe, which took place 27 years ago, and the pastor confirmed the woman's age at the time of the relationship during the livestream.
Indiana state law sets the statute of limitations for sexual misconduct with a minor and similar offenses at the victim's 31st birthday, but legal experts say there are exceptions -- specifically for cases where a recorded confession provides enough evidence to charge a crime.
“There is one particular offense that could apply, which is called child seduction," said law professor Jody Madeira, of Indiana University. "This applies when people in positions of trust or authority of a child, law enforcement, mental health practitioners, or anyone with a professional relationship with the child,” she says “It affects children between 16 and 18 years old, again these people use their professional relationship to engage in sexual conduct with a child and that is the offense of child seduction.”
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