WASRSAW, IN — An Indiana pastor’s confession of adultery ended with the religious leader admitting he had sexual contact with a teenager decades ago, after the victim came forward to address the congregation, a video streamed on Facebook shows.
The incident occurred Sunday at New Life Christian Church & World Outreach in Warsaw, and began with Pastor John Lowe telling the church’s members he had committed adultery 20 years ago, asking for forgiveness and announcing he would be stepping away from ministry responsibilities.
“I sinned,” he said in the video. “I need to say that and you deserve to hear it.”
Lowe’s initial confession was met with applause and a standing ovation, but a woman came to the front of the church with another revelation.
“I’ve lived in a prison of lies and shame, lying to protect the Lowe family,” she said, telling the congregation she lost her virginity to Lowe at age 16 in his office. “I thought I was a horrible person, having suicidal thoughts, not realizing what had been truly done to me, that I was a victim.”
The woman said the sexual contact with Lowe began 27 years ago.
“You did things to my teenage body that had never and should have never been done,” she said. “If you can’t admit the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here.”
A man who identified himself as the woman’s husband said she had been sexually groomed starting at age 15 and that the relationship had continued for nine years.
“It’s not just adultery, it’s another level when it’s a teenager,” the man said.
After the couple spoke, Lowe admitted in response to pressure from the crowd that the woman was 16 when he had sexual contact with her.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the church said Lowe resigned Monday.
“In the wake of what has now been revealed, we are hurting and broken for a woman who has lovingly attended and served in the church for many years, as well as for her husband and family,” the statement said. “Our brokenness extends to Pastor John B. Lowe II, his wife and family as well.”
An investigation has been opened involving a local pastor, the Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office confirmed to WPTA, although the agency would not disclose whether it was related to the Facebook Live video.
The age of consent in Indiana is 16, but Indiana University Law Professor Jody Madeira told WPTA that Lowe’s case could constitute child seduction, when a person uses their professional relationship to have sexual contact with a child between the age of 16 and 18. Typically, such crimes must be prosecuted before the victim turns 31, but one exception is if the state obtains a recorded confession that provides sufficient evidence.