Former pastor Robert Lyzenga, who admitted in Mayto hiding two video cameras inside a women’s restroom at a Lafayette church, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison followed by three years of probation.
Lyzenga, 58, pleaded guilty to allegations he surreptitiously recorded five women and five girls over the course of several months in 2011 and 2012.
One of Lyzenga’s parishioners discovered the cameras, which were disguised as air fresheners in the women’s bathroom just off the sanctuary at Sunrise Christian Reformed Church.
Investigators downloaded video footage from the devices and located files on Lyzenga’s computers. They determined that the pastor had not only viewed the videos but also edited some of the footage, according to a sentencing summary released by Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington.
Video of a 16-year-old girl had been edited to include “slow-motion replays showing her exposed pubic area,” the document states.
Lyzenga also possessed still images derived from the footage.
Detectives noted that the cameras were repositioned multiple times. One video was captured by a camera outside the restroom stalls; another was recorded from the ceiling, looking down into the stalls.
Lyzenga said when he pleaded guilty that he’d never intended to record children. Learning that young girls had found their way in front of his predatory lens didn’t stop him, though, from continuing to download and review the footage.
His youngest victim was 5 years old.
He repositioned the cameras more times than he could recall, all the while continuing to lead a congregation of about 200 people, until he was caught in April 2012.
Lyzenga’s fall from grace hurled the congregation into tumult, and about a tenth of the church’s regular attendees left.
Considering the pastor’s position of trust, the young age of the victims and repetitive nature of the offenses, Judge Randy Williams of Tippecanoe Superior Court 1 determined that the aggravating factors in Lyzenga’s case outweighed the mitigating factors, even though the defendant pleaded guilty and had no criminal history.
Williams could have sentenced Lyzenga to a maximum of 10 years and minimum of two years. He settled on a seven-year sentence.
Lyzenga was also ordered to have no contact with any of the 10 victims. He was ordered to pay a number of fines and abide by special probation conditions for adult sex offenders.