Andy Savage's confession before hundreds of members of the Highpoint Church comes just days after Jules Woodson accused the church leader of sexually assaulting her decades ago while he was youth minister at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas. I apologized and sought forgiveness from her, her parents, her discipleship group, the church staff, and the church leadership, who informed the congregation. Forced to address Woodson's account of the 1998 incident in Texas, repeated as part of the #MeToo campaign in recent months, Andy Savage appeared Sunday in front of worshippers at the evangelical Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tenn., where he's now a pastor. "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 told his followers, who reportedly gave him a standing ovation for his remarks.
"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. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness and healing".
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In a phone interview Monday night, a tearful Woodson said she was in utter disbelief at the video. Woodson, who was 17 years old at the time, claimed Savage pulled her aside and began molesting her, then begged her not to tell anyone. Also, Savage has written a book on marriage, "The Ridiculously Good Marriage", which was scheduled for July publication. I asked what was back here.
"An apology does not change the fact that what happened to me was against the law and that it was wrong", she said. "I remember thinking this must mean that Andy Loved me".
Savage did not go into detail about the "sexual incident", but he did admit that he had sinned. She said she filed a report with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
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Chris Conlee, the lead pastor at Highpoint Church, said he was one of those "hurt by the ripple effect of the consequences of that sin" but maintained he stood by Savage's side.
There is no statute of limitation for prosecution of sexual assault under this circumstance. He never stated any specifics and talked about how he thought he had no "unfinished business" with his victim.
The Commercial Appeal reported Monday that The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, placed Pastor Larry Cotton on leave due to his connection with allegations made by Woodson against Savage.
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"I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it", Woodson wrote. He made the statement only after she called him out in a private email and public blog posts. "It doesn't matter if I was his only victim".