Minutes after the pastor of an Indiana church announced he was stepping down because of adultery, a woman came forward to say she was 16 years old when the pastor began performing sex acts with her.
“I was a prisoner, and you kept me in your prison,” the woman told Pastor John Lowe and the congregation at New Life Christian Church and World Outreach in Warsaw on Sunday, May 22.
Her revelation came after the 65-year-old Lowe told the congregation he had “committed adultery” nearly 20 years ago. He did not share details about the affair or the age of the woman when announcing he was stepping down from ministry responsibilities “in accordance with our church bylaws.”
As Lowe received a standing ovation from the church, the woman and her husband took the stage. The unnamed woman said she “lived in imprisonment” for 27 years, calling herself the “victim” in Lowe’s affair.
“I am a prisoner no longer. I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that?” she said in the direction of the pastor. “I know you do and I have plenty of other stories I could bring to your remembrance. You did things to my teenage body that had never and should have never been done.”
She described living in shame as the affair with the pastor continued into her 20s.
The woman’s husband later took the microphone, saying Lowe’s misdeeds with the woman lasted for 9 years.
“People have to be held accountable,” the husband said. “They can’t just bamboozle people and just say, ‘I just committed adultery.’ It was far beyond adultery.”
The congregation later demanded Lowe tell the truth, and he confessed that the misconduct began when the victim was 16.
“It was wrong. I can’t make it right. I can’t make it any better,” Lowe said.
Church personnel said in a statement on Monday, May 23, that it was not aware of Lowe’s wrongdoing with the woman until she came forward.
“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 church said. “It is our deepest prayer and commitment to love, support, encourage and help her through a process of healing in a way in which we are able.”
Lowe’s resignation went into effect May 23, the church said.
The Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office told WANE-TV it was investigating the allegations but did not offer any additional details.
The age of consent in Indiana is 16, but an Indiana University law professor said an offense of child seduction could apply to Lowe, according to WNDU.
“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,” Jody Madeira told the station “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.”
Warsaw is in northern Indiana about 125 miles north of Indianapolis.