A stunning video was captured at an Indiana church where a pastor confessed to his congregation that he committed “adultery” many years ago. A woman stepped forward after his speech and accused him of telling lies and half-truths and said that she had been victimized by him for years, starting when she was just 16 years old.
Pastor John Lowe II’s remarks were recorded on video Sunday at New Life Christian Church and World Outreach in Warsaw, Ind.
The video of the exchange was posted on Facebook with the caption: “This is what the church stopped streaming for their live video.”
In it, Lowe, 65, told his congregation, “I committed adultery.”
“It was nearly 20 years ago,” he said. “It continued far too long. It involved one person and there’s been no other.”
“I have no defence,” he continued. “To say it plainly, I didn’t make a mistake, I didn’t have an issue, I didn’t have an affair, I didn’t make a misjudgement. I sinned. I need to say that and you deserve to hear it.”
Lowe asked his congregation for forgiveness and healing. When he was done, many churchgoers rose for a standing ovation.
But then a woman walked up to the microphone with her story.
“It was 27 years I lived in a prison, it was not 20 years,” she said as her voice shook. “I lived in a prison of lies and shame, lying to protect the Lowe family. For years I thought I was a horrible person, having suicidal thoughts, not realizing what had been truly done to me.”
“I was just 16 when you took my virginity on your office floor. Do you remember that? I know you do,” the woman, who is now in her 40s, said to Lowe.
“If you can’t admit the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here.”
She described feeling alone and without anyone to talk to, claiming that people knew about the abuse but were too afraid to come forward. The woman said that if she had gotten counselling at the time then perhaps the pastor would be behind bars.
“You kept me in your prison,” she said as Lowe stood near. “I’m a prisoner no longer.”
The woman stood with her husband on stage during the speech and he spoke up at the end to say that her abuse lasted for nine years.
“It’s not just adultery,” he said.
The pair walked off when they were done speaking and some members of the congregation stood up to embrace her as she walked by them.
“If you did it, you need to admit it,” one person from the audience yelled.
Lowe took the microphone again as others shouted questions. He admitted to having sex with the woman when she was a teenager.
“It was wrong. I can’t make it right,” Lowe said. “I ask you to forgive me and that’s all I can do.”
After those words, the footage cut forward as a few dozen people walked up to encircle and support Lowe as another man led a prayer.
The Associated Press left a voicemail message for Lowe seeking comment but he has not yet made any more public remarks.
The Kosciusko County prosecutor’s office said it is investigating the allegations but has yet to comment publicly.
Lowe told the congregation that he was stepping down from his role as pastor and the church confirmed in a statement that he has resigned.
“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 church wrote. “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.”
“Our brokenness extends to Pastor John B. Lowe II, his wife and family as well,” the church added. “As healing occurs in their hearts, their marriage and family, we are committed to demonstrating the same support, encouragement, counsel and forgiveness that has come to define the collective heart and ministry of this body.”
The age of consent in Indiana is 16.
— With files from The Associated Press