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Pastor Andy Savage Resigns After Sex Abuse Investigation, His Accuser Responds

03-22-2018

Pastor Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN has resigned from his position after accusations of a sexual assault 20 years ago.

Earlier this year Savage took a leave of absence during an investigation into the alleged incident involving a teenage girl. He officially resigned Tuesday.

"I now believe it's appropriate for me to resign from my staff position at Highpoint Church and step away from ministry in order to do everything I can to right the wrongs of the past," he said in his resignation statement.

The church faced a wave of backlash in January after giving Savage a standing ovation when he confessed to the assault.

The incident took place when Savage was a 22-year-old youth pastor at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas.

Pastor Chris Conlee, of Highpoint, said in January that the church was aware of the sexual assault but had "total confidence in the redemptive process" Andy underwent at the church in Texas.

"While the investigation found no other instances of abuse in Andy's ministry, the leadership team at Highpoint Church agrees that Andy's resignation is appropriate, given the reasons stated in his resignation statement," the church said in a recent statement on its website. 

The statement continued, "Highpoint leadership has come to recognize that it was defensive rather than empathetic in its initial reaction to Ms. Jules Woodson's communication concerning the abuse she experienced, and humbly commits to develop a deeper understanding of an appropriate, more compassionate response to victims of abuse."

Woodson, who was inspired by the #MeTooCampaign, alleged that Savage sexually assaulted her while she was a 17-year-old high school senior in Texas in 1998. She wrote about the incident in January in a blog, which included an email she sent to Savage.

"Do you remember that night you were supposed to drive me home from church and instead drove me to a deserted back road and sexually assaulted me?" she wrote.

She said she told an associate pastor at Woodlands Parkway about the assault, but he did not inform the police.

People online are responding to Savage's resignation.

"I'm glad to see he finally stepped down," said Justin Keck. "There is absolutely no way you can do what he did and still be able to be a pastor."

"It is about time. I am glad the Church is reevaluating the stance of defensive reaction to the young woman and possibly becoming more aware of empathetic measures towards the young woman," Teresa Beck Simms said.

Woodson tweeted her response to Savage's resignation, calling it a 'step in the right direction.'

"While yesterday's announcement is a step in the right direction, the conversation must not end here," she said.  "Instead, this needs to be a wakeup call for everyone."

She added, "Genuine repentance is not demonstrated by one decision but by many decisions that, over a period of time and born out of humility, transform the culture of the church."

"When Jules cried out for justice, I carelessly turned the topic to my own story of moral change, as if getting my own life in order should help to make up for what she went through and continues to go through," Savage says in his statement.  "Morality is meant to guard against injustices, not to minimize them, to compensate for them, or to obscure them. I agree with Jules that, of all places, we as the Church should be getting this right."

CBN News contacted Highpoint Church for a response to Savage's resignation, but they declined our request for an interview.  They instead directed us to their website's statement.

 

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