A megachurch pastor in Tennessee who believes in conversion therapy and preaches that homosexuality as a sin just admitted to a forced “sexual incident” with a 17-year-old girl… and the crowd went wild.
42-year-old Andy Savage preaches at Highpoint Church in Memphis. Last Friday, a woman named Jules Woodson came forward to accuse him of sexual assault.
The alleged incident happened back in 1998 when Woodson was in high school and Savage was working at a Baptist church in Houston. One evening after church, he offered her a ride home.
“As he was driving me towards my home, he passed the turn he should have made to go to my house,” she writes in a blog post. “I asked him where he was going. I don’t remember his exact response [but it was] something along the lines of ‘you’ll see,’ or ‘it’s a surprise.’”
Savage turned down a dirt road. At a dead end, he parked the truck and turned off the headlights.
Andy unzipped his jeans and pulled out his penis. He asked me to suck it. I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me. He then asked me to unbutton my shirt. I did. He started touching me over my bra and then lifted my bra up and began touching my breasts.
After the assault, Savage told her not to tell anyone about it. Woodson says she became consumed with “fear, shame, anger and hurt.” When she approached church leaders, they told her to not to say anything and that it would be handled internally
Nothing was ever done.
After the blog post went viral, Savage took a moment to address the allegations with his congregation last Sunday.
“Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules,” he said during the service. “Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions 20 years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness and healing.”
His remarks were met with a standing ovation from churchgoers, followed by a prayer led by another pastor.
Savage followed the remarks up with a formal written statement published on the church’s website. In it, he admitted to what he called a “sexual incident” with Woodson and insisted he had already taken “full responsibility” for his predatory actions.
“I was and remain very remorseful for the incident and deeply regret the pain I caused her and her family,” he declared, “as well as the pain I caused the church and God’s Kingdom.”
He went on to say that even though he kinda sorta raped a teenage girl one time, he’s never done it again since then, nor does he ever plan to again. So everything’s cool, right? Right?!
“There has never been another situation remotely similar in my life before or after that occurrence,” he said.
In addition to being pro-conversion therapy and anti-all-things-gay, Savage appears in a video series called “Sex Nation” that bashes homosexuality, pornography, divorce, and “sexual atheism.” He’s also been a vocal critic of other guys accused of sexual misconduct:
Woodson filed a report against Savage with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children last week. Unfortunately, because of the the statute of limitations, authorities say they are limited as to what they can do; however, Capt. Dan Zientek of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says “some possible options” may be available.
In the meantime, Highpoint Church says it stands by Savage and has no plans on removing him from his post.