Pastor Admits to 'Adultery' During Service — But Then Female Church Member Takes the Mic: 'I Was Just 16'

·4 min read
Pastor John Lowe prays during Indiana Pastors Alliance prayer rally at the Statehouse Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Indianapolis. Supporters and opponents of expanding LGBT rights in Indiana have descended on the Statehouse, with both sides citing Christian beliefs as justification for their positions.
Pastor John Lowe prays during Indiana Pastors Alliance prayer rally at the Statehouse Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Indianapolis. Supporters and opponents of expanding LGBT rights in Indiana have descended on the Statehouse, with both sides citing Christian beliefs as justification for their positions.

Darron Cummings/AP Pastor John Lowe

A pastor in Indiana announced he was stepping down from his position on Sunday, telling his congregants that he had "committed adultery." However, after he walked away from the microphone, a woman claimed that was only the "partial truth," and that she was 16 at the time, according to video footage that has been viewed by thousands on social media.

New Life Christian Church & World Outreach, located in Warsaw, acknowledged the accusations against Pastor John B. Lowe II in a statement on their website, writing in part, "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."

PEOPLE has attempted to reach Lowe for comment.

The incident unfolded at the end of the service, as Lowe claimed that his infidelity occurred "nearly 20 years ago" and "continued far too long," according to the video.

"It involved one person and there's been no other," he continued. "I sinned. I need to say that and you deserve to hear it."

After asking for forgiveness from "those that I sinned against," Lowe announced that he would be stepping down, in accordance with church bylines and the recommendations of the board.

Related video: Hillsong pastor resigns amid infidelity scandal

Although he immediately got a standing ovation at the end of his speech, a hush quickly came over the crowd when a woman and her husband approached the microphone.

"For 27 years, I lived in a prison. It was not 20 years," said the woman, who described herself as a victim of Lowe's. "I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that? I know you do."

The woman, who has not been publicly identified by name, is now in her 40s, while Lowe is 65, according to the Washington Post.

RELATED: Hillsong's First Black Pastor Leaves Church, Saying His Congregants Don't 'Trust' Leadership After Scandals

As she addressed the congregants, the woman said that for decades she lied "to protect the Lowe family" and "thought I was a horrible person."

She claimed that she "would still be in a prison" today if not for her brother, who approached her two weeks earlier with his recollection of what he had seen when they were teenagers.

"You are not the victim here," she said to Lowe. "The church deserves to know the truth. This church has been built on lies, but no more."

"People have to be held accountable," added her husband. "They can't just bamboozle people and just say, well I just committed adultery. It was far beyond adultery."

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Then, the voices of several church goers could be heard, demanding to hear from Lowe. "If you did it, you need to admit it," one person could be heard yelling out.

Around the 12-minute mark, the video shows how the pastor addressed questions from the congregation, saying, "She was 16 years old."

"It was wrong," he said. "I can't make it right. I can't make it any better. That's just the way it is."

"If I could go back and redo it all, I would," he added at another point. "I can't, and all I can do is ask you to forgive me."

On Monday, the Kosciusko County Prosecutor's Office told news station WANE 15 that there is a pending investigation into the matter.

However, when reached by PEOPLE on Tuesday, a spokesperson said in a statement that "after reviewing the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Hampton is not permitted to disseminate any information regarding alleged misconduct."

RELATED: Sex Scandals, Celebrities and the Business of Christianity: Inside Hillsong Church's Rise and Fall

New Life Christian Church & World Outreach did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, but in a statement on their website, the church said "this long-held secret first came to light when a woman in the church came forward and disclosed the relationship to various people within the church."

"When confronted by others in church leadership concerning that report, Pastor Lowe confessed privately that the adultery did, in fact, occur," the statement continued. "The woman in question and her family did attend together and addressed the congregation, indicating that improper sexual conduct first occurred when she was 16 years of age and continued into her twenties. She tearfully described living with deep shame and pain over the ensuing years."

"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. It is our deepest prayer and commitment to love, support, encourage and help her through a process of healing in any way in which we are able," the church added.

The church went on to claim that until the woman came forward recently, "none of this was disclosed to or known by any of the staff, ministers or personnel."

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