No charges after pastor accused of sexual assault asks for forgiveness at church event
THE WOODLANDS, Texas – Taking a seat before a Memphis Congregation this Sunday morning, teaching Pastor Andy Savage asked for forgiveness from his accuser, his family and his church for what happened when he was a youth minister at a church in Spring.
“I regretfully had a sexual incident with a female high school senior,” said Savage of High Point Church in Memphis.
This comes after his accuser, Jules Woodson, spoke out this weekend.
"I was sexually assaulted by my youth minister when I was 17 years old," Woodson said.
She said, after a church event at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church, now known as Stonebridge Church, Savage drove her home but stopped along an empty road and asked her to perform a sexual act.
"This is something I've struggled with all my life," Woodson said.
She said to add to her pain and confusion, church leaders asked her to keep silent about what happened. Savage resigned and went back home to Tennessee.
"It's very hard to tell your story. It's very hard to speak up, especially when you feel pressured by the church to be silent," Savage said.
At times emotional, Savage said he asked for Woodson's forgiveness at the time.
“Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules,” Savage said. “So today, I say, Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions 20 years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you towards your forgiveness and healing."
Savage's pastor said they were fully aware of Savage's past.
“I support him because I do know him so well,” said Chris Conlee, senior pastor of High Point Church.
Empowered by the #MeToo movement, Woodson says she felt compelled to speak up.
"His apology isn't enough, because No. 1, he's lying about how he handled it,” Woodson said. “He never came to me. The church told him he couldn't talk to me, and they told me I couldn't talk to him."
Steve Bradley, senior pastor at Stonebridge Church sent the following statement:
“We will be issuing a formal statement, but thought that it was important first to discuss this matter with our Church family, which I did today during our worship services. This happened twenty years ago and to suggest that I or anyone else on the staff at Stonebridge Church participated in a conspiracy to cover-up this sexual misconduct is simply not accurate.
"After Andy Savage confessed and asked for forgiveness from the victim, her parents, her discipleship group, and the Church staff, he was terminated. We were heartbroken twenty years ago when this happened and we remain heartbroken for Jules, her family and all those impacted."
According to the Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable's Office, the statute of limitations in the case has passed.
Precinct 3 released a statement that read:
"Pastor Andy Savage sexual assault from 1998: We want to confirm with the media that this case has been brought to Montgomery County Constable’s Office Precinct 3 attention yesterday. A case was opened and the complainant in the case was interviewed by a Detective. During the process of collecting initial information from the complainant we have been working with the District Attorney’s office on possible charges in the case. Montgomery County District Attorney’s office has researched the law that would have applied in 1998 for the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations has passed and no charges would be able to be filed. Using the current statute we would have some possible options but we are limited to the law as it was at the time of the offense in 1998. As a result we are unable to investigate and seek justice to the full extent of what would we normally would in such a case."
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