Memphis pastor admits to sexual assault, receives standing ovation

Memphis pastor admits to sexual assault, receives standing ovation

Members of the Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee applauded Pastor Andy Savage when he admitted to and apologized for a sexual incident with a high school student 20 years ago.

Savage reportedly sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl who was in his youth group when he led the youth group at a previous church. Woodson said Savage offered her a ride home, only to drive her to a wooded area where he assaulted her.

"I apologized and sought forgiveness from her, her parents, her discipleship group, the church staff, and the church leadership, who informed the congregation", Savage said in a statement.

"As a college student on staff at a church in Texas more than 20 years ago, I regretfully had a sexual incident with a female high school senior in the church", Savage said.

This incident was dealt with in Texas 20 years ago, but in the last few days has been presented to a wider audience. "I was and remain very remorseful for the incident and deeply regret the pain I caused her and her family, as well as the pain I caused the church and God's Kingdom".

He was treated to a 20-second standing ovation while Woodson, watching online, was left in tears, per the New York Times.

Woodson claimed she notified Larry Cotton, associate pastor of the Baptist church, after the incident in 1998, but was told to keep quiet. In response to the allegation, Christian publisher Bethany House has dropped an upcoming book by Savage. He then asked me to unbutton my shirt. He even said he took "responsibility" for his actions, despite the fact that he never turned himself in to any real authorities. "I remember thinking this must mean that Andy Loved me".


But this November, after Matt Lauer was sacked from NBC for alleged sexual misconduct, Woodson was inspired to confront Savage over email, asking him if he remembered sexually assaulting her.

He also stated that he told church leaders at Highpoint about what happened before he was hired.

"I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it", Woodson wrote.

"I just hope that by me coming forward that I would give courage to one other person", Woodson said. She said that she has since reported the molestation to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, even though Texas' statute of limitations may prevent the situation from ever being resolved.

The worst part is that the megachurch congregation didn't respond by condemning Savage, or supporting Woodson, or walking out of church in protest.

The pastor told his story because he didn't want to "minimize anything". "It doesn't matter if I was his only victim".

Woodson wrote that Savage pulled over the vehicle, unzipped his jeans and pulled out his penis before asking her to suck it.

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