Megachurch pastor Andy Savage

Memphis megachurch pastor Andy Savage pictured with his wife in a recent photo. Savage has admitted to the incident and asked for forgiveness.


The well-known megachurch pastor Andy Savage stood before his congregation last week and admitted to a “sexual incident” between himself and a 17-year-old girl back when Savage was a youth pastor. Apparently overwhelmed by his honesty, churchgoers gave the faith leader a standing ovation.

The Memphis-area pastor and father of five was forced to address the incident after a public accusation from the alleged victim, Jules Woodson. She describes asking Savage for a ride home one evening in 1998. He obliged, but before stopping at her house, Savage pulled down a dark country road, parked the car, and coerced her into performing oral sex on him. Afterward, she says, he dropped to his knees and asked God for forgiveness. Savage also sought to keep Jules quiet, telling her: “You have to take this to the grave with you.”

Holy Hypocrisy

Jules explains that she decided to finally come forward with her story after seeing the now-famous megachurch pastor tweet about sexual assault allegations against Matt Lauer late last year:

A tweet from megachurch pastor Andy Savage

Knowing what he had done to her, the hypocrisy of Savage’s “holier than thou” attitude toward the #metoo movement was especially infuriating. She realized she could no longer stay silent. Jules wrote to him, asking him to address the incident:

An email sent to Andy Savage by accuser Jules Woodson

She received no response.

#JusticeForJules

Although Savage’s followers appear to be standing by their pastor, reactions to the news outside the confines of his church haven’t been nearly as positive. Critics have taken to social media to slam Savage for abusing his position of power and attempting to cover up the incident. There is even an online petition circulating that calls for his resignation with an associated hashtag, #JusticeforJules.

As the backlash continues to mount, things aren’t looking good for Savage’s career. In addition to demands that he step down, an upcoming book deal has been cancelled, announced the publisher.

Change Must Come

Although Jules filed a police report, it’s unclear whether Savage will face any criminal charges. But that’s OK, she says. The goal was never to exact personal revenge, it was to shed light on the power imbalances that exist in the church and help prevent future cases of abuse, she explains:

“My hope in finally coming forward with my story is not only that I can begin to get closure and healing for all that has happened to me, but more so, that my story might have a positive impact on others and effect positive change in how these types of situations are handled within the church.

To anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse in the church and the subsequent cover up and pressure to remain silent, I want you to know that it is not your fault. Most importantly, I want you to know that you are not alone.”

Challenging Pastoral Power

Obviously, pastors exploiting their positions of power is far from a new phenomenon. To this day, victims of abuse in the Catholic Church continue to come forward about incidents that occurred decades ago. But with the rise of the #metoo movement, there is a new dynamic at work, one that empowers victims to speak up and confront their abusers – no matter how powerful or famous they might be.

 

73 comments

  1. eric karr says:

    he should remove himself from the pulpit , plain and simple

    1. Minister KIM says:

      Very True! Everyone should do a little research on the child abuse and so forth with Jehovah’s Witnesses. What you find out will amaze you and show you how brain-washed and cult like people really are. The leaders of this religion are really getting away with terrible acts of abuse and obviously, false teachings.. Research and see for yourself!

    2. Patrick Stephens says:

      She sucked his dick, why? She had the option to open the door and run, unless he was holding a gun to her head, why come out now?

    3. Sofia A Smith says:

      It sound as if it happens a long time ago, I know it doesn’t stop the way she felt,some people can change,and Jesus did say he that is with out sin cast the first stone. Why not let him sit down for while ask God for giveness, believe me its not easy to forgive those that hurt you but a lot of our lives circumstances we of to make God lord in it

  2. Linda says:

    I agree that he should not be allowed to deal with youth or vulnerable people in a position of any authority.
    I wonder, though, when people do admit to, or are found guilty of sexual assault, or impropriety, it seems like we think they should they simply end their lives then and there. They are immediately deprived of their jobs and reputation before they even go through due process. Is there no way at all we feel that these people can heal? If there is no way for them to carry on in life, how hopeless. People can change and learn better. There are those that can’t, whose true sickness prevents help. I think though, that we have to know that many abuses were abused themselves. Do we just throw all these people away? I know they may serve as a prohibitive example for others, but sexual impropriety will still happen. Do we encourage these people to get help, and learn a new way, and become members of the community again, or do we leave them no option but to live in infamy?

    1. T'Keren Valmaz says:

      No I say we exile all of them to an island, ideally one that also becomes the global dumping ground for toxic waste which is itself less toxic then the behavior of sexual abusers.

      There is no way for the victims to ever have justice as long as their abusers walk free among the masses. Exile and banishment are the least of what they deserve. Personally I think 3 days on a cross would be to kind a fate for these vile monsters wearing the form of humans. They are not human the moment they cross that line.

      Id personally condone impalement Prince Vlad style. That is what predators of the young deserve frankly.

      1. Penni says:

        Pe0ple please get sabef because this world cant stand much.longer and please think about what in the blink of an eye refers to it gets more Immoral in this world every day i remember my grand mother use to tell me that all the time its been 35 years but i truy believe that blink of an eye will come any time now because it cant and will not be let go like this forever god bless us all

      2. Sofia A Smith says:

        Wow where is the love, I felt like that some times but I can’t afford to let the devil corrupt my mind.he wants to full our hearts with hate i just really really can’t let him win

    2. Benoit says:

      Research and experience show and prove that there is no cure for pedephilia or rapists, meaning it is a biological hence genetic sexual aberration and they are bound to do it again, cannot help themselves.

      If he done it once, ods are there are more victims as possibly as the very same day he was FORCED to come forward.

      The victims have to live with it the rest of their lives, why should the perpetrators get a do over? A clean slate? Why?

      1. Shawn says:

        Jesus would say otherwise. How many drug abusers, murderers, felons, etc has He turned around? Millions.

        1. ted says:

          More useful if your 2000 year dead jewish chap would stop them before they committed those crimes…

      2. Ron says:

        Do you even know what pedophilia is? We are talking about an incident with a 17 year old. Since when is a 17 year old pre pubescent?

        1. Brian says:

          You are right it’s called ephebophilia but it’s still sex with a minor. Plus it was abuse of power with a vulnerable demographic.

    3. theschrodingercat says:

      Losing a job or a reputation is not a criminal punishment. It is a social punishment enacted by society upon those who do crap they shouldn’t be doing, kind of like how farting in a crowded elevator gets you remarks of disgust and dirty looks, but 100 times worse.

      You don’t get due process for societal punishment. Due process is exclusively reserved for whether or not someone should receive criminal punishment as administered by the legal system, up to and including corporal punishment.

      Please stop conflating the two. When you do so, it paints the women who seek acknowledgement for the social punishment that has been inflicted upon them (shame, ostracism, isolation) merely for being the victims of assault or harassment and standing up for themselves.

      When we confuse due process, either intentionally or through a misguided understanding of what due process is, we help the abusers enact another round of pain upon their victims.

    4. Jacqui says:

      We live with a forgiving God. We are taught that the only way to forgiveness is through God. My opinion does not matter; what matters is the individual’s faith in God and seeking forgiveness. None of us are without sin. Who are we to decide who should and should not be forgiven?

      1. Sharon says:

        There is a distinct difference between forgiveness and trust. Jesus commands us to forgive, but to trust an abuser again is foolish.

    5. Rene L. says:

      The “tell” here is he did not come forward ( of course!!! ) until he had no choice! My response would be: 10 years no contact with children under 18 yrs of age, no ministry until he has gone through a SUCCESSFUL range of counseling regarding predatory behavior vis a vis children and sexual appropriate behavior, signed off by his church superiors. Losing his life’s focus and direction for a time at least should be enough, and hopefully it would redirect him towards a better future!

      1. ted says:

        Or just chuck the creep in jail and when released no contact with anyone under 18 unsupervised, including his own children…

    6. Rev. George French says:

      What hate we are showing here! We have been chosen to be disciples of God, and all this negativity is so unacceptable. Learn it, love it or leave it. Love the man and despise his actions. 1998, 29 yrs. ago he made a grave mistake. I imagine he has had a number of conversations w/ our Father by now! How much have we all changed in the last 29 yrs.? I have a done a total 180 turnabout and now I am blessed to receive His Graces, along with all His children. The man temporarily fell away from Father. He did a terrible, terrible act. 29 yrs ago, I would have acted totally different. I am the proud father of two now grown adult girls, and believe me, I felt the rage building inside of me, just by thinking about the situation. If this was a single incident that is one thing, but if it were not, that’s different story.The man fell to his knees and begged for our Father’s forgiveness the second after it happened. He knew what he did was so horrific, he didn’t wait hours, days or weeks to fall on his knees begging for His forgiveness. He fell prey to a human, natural attraction. A weakness,one that the professional community reports as an illness. He should never be in that position again, I’m spiritual not ignorant. There are many ways a man can serve the Lord. After reading these posts I think many of us need to hit our knees and beg for His forgiveness also. Isn’t that what we signed up for???

  3. Barry says:

    Did it once,will more than likely do it again.
    Time to change careers

  4. Wendy says:

    One of the more disturbing aspects of this wan’t mentioned in this particular story. His congregation gave him a standing ovation when he admitted it! How…HOW…is that a sane response to finding out that your pastor is a rapist? HOW? http://www.ksdk.com/article/news/nation-now/tenn-pastor-admits-to-sexual-incident-with-teen-receives-standing-ovation-from-congregation/63-506753192

    1. Charlotte says:

      I went to this church. Not anymore though. He was hired even after sharing the story with the associate pastor. I had no clue. I know we are to forgive and I struggled with this for a while but because something similar happened to me in my past I chose to leave the church and the Bible study I had on Sunday nights with some women. I was born again and set free from 30 years of drug use 5/25 2016. I am new in my faith so this was very difficult for me but I’m moving on. It’s not for me to judge. I thank God for understanding discernment today.

    2. TJ says:

      Because his congregation is obviously filled with followers of him and not “God”.

    3. CB Cuff says:

      That was the first bizzar quote that immediately got my attention! Among other minor issues such as unethical, immoral, abusive, it was also a criminal act, And ‘his congregation’ gave him a standing ovation!! Let’s hope is wife moved on, and took the kids with.

  5. thomas says:

    NO PASTORS IN PUBLIC BATHROOMS!!!! THEY MOLEST SO MANY KIDS! AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH

  6. James Pace says:

    Funny how he only addressed it and asked forgiveness AFTER she made it public…..

  7. drrgrivera says:

    WHAT THESE 2 IDIOTS AND MANY MORE LIKE THEM, NEED TO DO IS
    WEAR THEMSELVES OUT ON THEIR WIVES OR GIRL FRIEND, 365 DAYS IN A YEAR AND
    REST ONE DAY ON LEAP YEAR….[THEY’LL NEED TO]
    TO AVOID THE IDIOTIC TROUBLE, THEY CAUSE FOR THEMSELVES.

    ANYWAY THAT’S THE HUMAN CONDITION.
    IT’S WHY WE’VE BEEN ISOLATED ON EARTH
    SO THAT WE DON’T GO “”BLEEP!!!!!!!” UP, ANY WHERE
    BUT ON EARTH.

    1. JOHN MAHER says:

      THESE OCCURRENCES are MENTAL PROBLEMS ASSUREDLY BUTT THEN LOOK @ DOTAR ORANGUtRUMP and HIS CONCUBINE IVANKA, I WONDER if THEY MENAGE ET TROIS with whats HIS NAME ???

  8. T'Keren Valmaz says:

    It is indeed the height of typical radical christian depravity when a group of people applaud and thereby condone such a vile and loathsome act. I personally feel sexual assault should be treated as attempted murder since many who are victims of such go on to self destruct one way or another. It causes trauma that will persist for the rest of their life. It can cause PTSD and make having happy healthy sexual relationships difficult to say the least.

    So yes in my humble view this man should be treated as an amoral villain unfit for anywhere but isolation along with other such unforgivable monsters.

    1. James Nusky says:

      I really don’t understand the standing ovation. I would never have gave this man a standing ovation. The Congregation should have been asked to quietly bow heads and pray for everyone involved. It’s shameful, not applaudable.

    2. DB says:

      I agree. Sick mf. Go to prison. Let others molest you.

      1. Keith Ainsworth says:

        exactly what is sick about a 17 boy wanting sex. That’s generally all they think about. If he had forced her or raped her it would have been different

        1. T'Keren Valmaz says:

          this was the case of an adult minister using his trusted position to isolate a minor, and force her to perform oral sex. Then he immediately afterward told her to never speak of it or god would condemn her while he would be forgiven for being weak to temptation.

  9. rabbi jim says:

    Greetings all! The pastor should be condemned as a criminal, subject to all punishment under the law. Sexual assault is a crime and disgrace to humanity. He, of all people, should know the value of love and respect to humanity. He should be stripped of his robes and sentenced to a long prison term without reprieve. Shalom, and have a wonderful and joyous new year!

    1. Keith Ainsworth says:

      But according to the report, he did nothing illegal

      1. T'Keren Valmaz says:

        Do you not understand what statutory rape is? Do you not understand what abuse of authority is? A pastor, preacher, minister etc should never take advantage of the trust given them to manipulate or abuse children under their guidance and protection.

  10. James Nusky says:

    I don’t know about a standing ovation. Legal action should be addressed. Praying for everyone involved is a must. People wash out as Pastors and Ministers because that was never really their calling. Just because it seems like a good idea, it’s not. Heavy judgment on those who abuse this gift. If God has not called you to Sheppard his sheep, just stay a sheep.

  11. Ed says:

    To condemn others, as he did, for something that he, himself, was guilty of, is indeed the height of hypocrisy, by the definition of the word. He has admitted to the act, confessed, and asked for forgiveness.

    However, as to whether he, and God, the girl, and his congregation, can forgive him. Well, that’s up to, and between all of them.

    It is not my place to judge.

  12. James Nusky says:

    I don’t believe that it is a mental health issue at all. It’s a sin issue. Just as Adam had a choice from the beginning, all of us have to make a choice. Right or wrong. Paul would say let a man examine himself to make sure he is in the faith!!!

    1. Glen says:

      What would Mary Magdalene say?

  13. William Lewis says:

    Acts 9: 1-19

  14. Judith Blackiemore says:

    Of course God forgives him….if he asks to be forgiven. But he needs to remove himself from contact with young people, forgive himself and seek counseling.

  15. PAUL says:

    IF THE GIRL WAS UNDERAGE (17 IN NEW YORK), GO TO TRIAL; IF CONVICTED, INCARCERATE

  16. Chaplain Russ says:

    Of course God will forgive him. However he is now a spritual cripple and one eyed sheppard. Best he be banished from the camp.

  17. Jim says:

    Please don’t take this the wrong way. It is not my intention to blame the victim here. There are just a couple of things I don’t understand, and I think they need to be answered.

    First, the pastor’s motivation for keeping his transgression quiet is obvious. But what was her motivation for not coming forth at the time? Was it shame? A sense of loyalty? Was she in love (and he wasn’t)? Was she filled with an overwhelming sense of forgiveness? It seems the only thing that turned the tide was his hypocritical tweet regarding Matt Lauer twenty years later. WTF?!?! She was good with it for twenty years, and a tweet pushed her over the edge? I don’t get it.

    Not sure what the laws are in Tennessee, but I’m guessing the statute of limitations has run out. So it is doubtful there will be any criminal charges. Strangely enough, the opinion of the congregation appears to be on HIS side, not the actual victim’s side. Talk about everyone drinking the Kool-Aid!

    This pastor that essentially raped this girl years ago and now passes judgement on someone else accused of the same crime is no different that the immensely hypocritical Hollywood crowd that thinks it’s trendy to wear black at awards shows to demonstrate how evolved they are. BULLS#!T!!! They all know it was going on, and it has been as long as they’ve been making movies. Yet, over the years, they all said NOTHING because it was more important to them to make movies with Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and others than it was to do the right thing. Oprah, Robert DeNiro, Kristin Bell, and the rest can go and toss themselves into a deep pit. I won’t miss a single one of them. They will turn their backs on this whole issue as soon as the public gets tired of it or finds a new cause to stir the masses. The casting couch is a long way from dead. It’s just taking a short nap.

    1. TJ says:

      As a victim of sexual assault and harassment, I can tell you why she didn’t come forward at the time. She was a 17-year old girl. He was the youth pastor at her church. Who do you think people would believe? They would have said, “She had a crush on him and he rebuffed her.” or “She brought it on herself by being in his car.” It takes a movement like #metoo to give females the strength and courage to come forward with our stories.

      1. Jim says:

        TJ, I am truly sorry for what happened to you as well as all victims of sexual assault, but it is exactly that thinking that has allowed this behavior to go on. So what if someone says, “Oh, she just had a crush on him.” I’m sure parents would think twice about letting their daughters ride in a car with him alone. Again, I’m not blaming the victim for what happened to her. But doesn’t every victim share a bit in the culpability of what happens to the next victim? Haven’t we seen this play out with Bill Cosby. One victim wasn’t believed or taken seriously, but when they start piling on by the dozens, it’s powerful.

        1. Kelsey Lexow says:

          Hey, Jim. Please look at your statement- “I’m not blaming the vicitim… BUT…” So. While you are trying to make the point that silence perpetuates the cycle of abuse, you are, indeed, blaming the victim.
          As a victim of sexual assualt- one who took immediate action, and was blamed for her assualt- I can tell you that our culture is hard-wired to look for the cause when bad things happen. What we don’t like to believe, however, is that some people just do bad things because they can. This discord makes us look for causes of these BIG BADS- “she lead him on,” “look at what she was wearing,” “she’s technically of legal age,” “what was she even DOING there, anyway,” etc. It helps us as a culture make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. Why don’t these things make sense? Because they shouldn’t. There should not be a reality where it is acceptable for someone to abuse thier position/ relationship/ insert-dynamic-here with another.
          In short, I appreciate your attempting to side with the victim in this situation. I appreciate your trying to encourage victims to come forward. However, if that is truly what you’re trying to say, leave it at that. Victims don’t need more guilt, especially where often part of the explanation is that it’s your fault for being there in the first place.

  18. Minister KIM says:

    This man should face the consequences of his actions as prescribed by man’s Law. To act as he did in such an arrogant way -acting and potraying himeself as he did is truly disturbing. God’s Law will settle all things on God’s time frame.

    1. Ron says:

      Maybe he could have faced consequences under the law if the “victim” had not waited 20 years to report it.

  19. Rev.Min. GEORGE SJOSTROM says:

    Seriously? hes a pastor of a church as a ULC minister myself I feel minister are held to a higher standard of what the church and the ministry is about with in the community. If our minister’s conduct themselves in this manor we are no better in the eye of the community than the last sex offender. God may forgive Mr. Savage for his indiscretion but he still has to face the law of the land.Throwing him self to the mercy of his community and the members of his church praying on their sympathy does not justify his criminal act in any way. Granted he did admit to his criminal act. which shows he knew what he was doing at the time and that it was wrong. but it also tells any one that is paying attention that he knows he is a predator of the worst kind and in the eyes of the people should be held accountable for his crimes just as any other criminal.

    1. Charles David Whitfield says:

      I totally agree! ! ! ! But Pastor, Minister and other church leaders are still human and acceptable to bad behavior as any other human. We as Church Leaders should always communicate to our followers that we have no greater power than them and we all on this spiritual journey together. The same Holy Spirit speaking to my spirit is the same speaking to your spirit.

  20. Delores Franklin says:

    GOD do forgive, Whom he will

  21. Bill Fox says:

    Forgiveness helps the person harmed. It does not relieve the offender of the consequences for his/her actions. This person should be banned from any position of responsibility in a church, and if the statute of limitations has not expired, punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    1. Charles David Whitfield says:

      I totally agree! ! ! !

  22. Jay says:

    Let he with out sin casts the first stone. Sin is sin . But we as, people like to categorized sin as Small, Med , Large or Exlarge. To make us feel better with our on sin at hand. Man will fall and make mistakes . What he did was wrong. But God is a forgiving father. Go boldly before the thrown of Grace and you find forgiveness..

    1. Charles David Whitfield says:

      @Jay, This has nothing to do with casting stones. This is about a Pastor or any person using the power and influence to make unwanted sexual advances. We live in a civilized nations with laws to deal with people who break the laws set forth by We The People. As Believers we are command to forgive and forget others bad behavior. But our government is not under any religious laws and thereforth shall followed the letter of the law to punish those who violate our trust and safety.

      1. Keith Ainsworth says:

        He was 17. Males at that age all experience urges and think nothing of coercing a girl into sex. It my be a sin in the eyes o the church (and holier than thou hypocrites)but it’s not illegal So he talked some girl into sex, it’s really no big deal, he didn’t assault her or force her.

        1. T'Keren Valmaz says:

          According to her he did and according to his admittance yes he did. Nor was he 17 that was the victim he was a legal adult at the time.

  23. Charles David Whitfield says:

    I believe any person who use their power and influence to make unwanted sexual advance on others should be punish to the maximum of the Law. If any adult person is found guilty of having sex with a minor should be given life sentence without parole. I also believe there shouldn’t be limitation on sexual crimes. As a Christian, I will forgive and forget a person bad behavior, but it doesn’t prevent the government from doing its job to punish bad people, that’s why we live in a civilized nation. We the people need to send a clear message that sexual assault and harassment will no-longer go unpunished. You will be held accountable for your actions.

    1. JOHN MAHER says:

      GOD may FORGIVE this PUTO PASTOR, WHAT ABOUT HER FAMILY, WHAT ABOUT HER and WHAT ABOUT ME, I BELIEVE that ANYONE, ANYBODY, MALE or FEMALE SEDUCING MINORS or WORSE CHILD MOLESTATION come UNDER DOTAR ORANGUtRUMP and ROY get the baby girls MOORE, VERY SICK MINDS YOU CANNOT FORGIVE,EVER !!!

  24. Ron says:

    Lets see if I have got this right from reading the article. Those that actually go to that church are standing behind the pastor, but a bunch of outsiders who probably couldn’t even tell you the address of the church are calling for his resignation.

    1. JOHN MAHER says:

      HOW ABOUT the US OLYMPIC DOCTOR ??? I’LL bet HE;s a BUDDY of ROY MOORE and DOTAR ORANGUtRUMP

  25. James Gunn Johnson says:

    We don’t know what the mindset of this person is and we can’t let ourselves fall into a self judgment or loathing we have to do what the Bible says if one of you hurt a child it would be better that you tie a millstone around your neck and dropping into the ocean or sea or whatever whatever the case may be. We can’t make the determination of what went through this Mayans mine could have been possessed by Demon or just out of his mind God knows his heart and God will be the judge.

  26. Don Wilson says:

    This happened in 1998 as I read . This 20 years ago. I don’t know thw age of this Pastor but pictured with his wife they appear to no older than 40 and probably younger. That ; assuming , my age quess is correct then he was 20. Then their age difference was ( three ) years ! A person 20 years old some would consider vulnerable as well . Seems like a lot of people making assumptions as to how this came about . I know it was wrong ! I simply don’t know the circumstances . Frankly I have seen nothing to lead me to believe that any of you do ! Also , who are we to pass judgment ?

  27. Carl Elfstrom says:

    I don’t know what it is in Tennessee, but I lived next door in Kentucky for four years where the age of consent was sixteen. I could be wrong but I think it’s seventeen here in Texas. Giving a BJ is nothing like rape. The article didn’t say he forced and held her head down on it. Otherwise, giving head is an aggressive act and receiving it is passive. Either way, if she was totally against the act she could have bit it off. Women have been known to do that. If it happened many years ago and nobody else is making such claims against him it was probably a one time incident. Some people, even men, have something called a conscience that won’t let them make the same mistake twice. Or maybe he does it all the time, and all the other girls really like it. Maybe all of his congregants who gave him that standing ovation have all gone down on him. If they forgave him and the girl is’nt seeking legal action against him, why are so many other people condemning the man? I want to see a show of hands of how many of y’all are against oral sex.

  28. george french says:

    Thank you Carl. I’ve been waiting for this crowd you yell “CRUCIFY HIM” Not a very loving group. ….and all you people claim to be religious. This is showing the compassion of Christ???

    1. T'Keren Valmaz says:

      Im not remotely christian why would I be inclined to follow the compassion of christ. And yes the article, the woman, and the pastor himself all state he forced her to. And even if the age of consent allows it, it does not excuse a minister of abusing his position. When you choose to step up and act a leader and guide you need to hold yourself to a higher standard.

      He also forced her to swear to god she would never tell before taking her home after the act. The man failed his position, his calling, his god, and his community, but worst of all he failed this girl who trusted him enough to be alone in a car with him.

      1. george french says:

        You make a very interesting point. I reread the article, again, and I was missing the ” coerced “part. You made a good point and I tend to agree w/ you.

  29. Alexandra Heath says:

    I have read all the comments that this incident has provoked and I would like to offer my own commentary. Let’s go back to the night when this incident occurred and look at what may have happened. The girl is young, 17, and a church-goer, which likely means quite innocent and trusting. The man is young, probably about 20, but is in a position of authority in the church. He is in fact the Youth Pastor. The evening church service/event ends and he offers to take the girl home. She has no inkling that he has anything in mind other than taking her home to her parents. So she trustingly gets in his car.

    All is well, they may even have chatted about the church event. Until. . . he turns down a dark, deserted road. She probably was a bit confused. “This isn’t; the way to my house”, she thought. She may even have asked him “Where are we going?” He may have smiled at her and said “Don’t worry.” Then he parks the car. “Why are we stopping?” she says. He reaches his arm across the back of the seat and begins to ply her with honeyed words. “You’re so pretty” “I noticed you right away.” He reaches out and twirls a bit of her hair around his finger. Now she is getting afraid. “What is he doing? What does he want?” she thinks. He may have kissed her at this point. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings so she didn’t protest.

    Finally, he exposes himself. He may have taken her hand and had her stroke his erect penis all the while murmuring how much he liked her. “Don’t you like me?” he says. “You can make me feel so good.” By now not only is she terrified she’s revolted. But he’s the Youth Pastor. She doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Even if she thinks about jumping out of the car and fleeing, where will she go? What if he chases her? How will she get home? She’s not dressed in clothes or shoes that permit her to run down a deserted road at night. There are no lights. No one knows where she is. She is terrified.

    He takes her gently by the head and forces it down until his penis is in her mouth. She gags. What does he want her to do? Oh God, she just wants to go home to Mom and Dad. He pumps his penis into her mouth and ejaculates. Suddenly he zips his pants, leaps from the car and falls to his knees to pray to God for forgiveness of his sin. She is in the front seat, the taste of his semen in her mouth, crying. He gets back in the car. Is he going to rape her now? She’s probably a virgin. God will judge her a whore. What does he do? He says, “You have to take this to your grave. You can’t tell anyone.” Does this mean he is going to kill her now? She is crying, tears that won’t stop, sure that her life is about to end.

    Part 2 follows:

  30. Alexandra Heath says:

    He starts the car, turns around and takes her home. He probably doesn’t speak or even look at her. She gets out of the car at the curb and walks up the long walkway to her front door. Inside, Mom says, “How was the church gathering? Did you have fun?” What can she say? She still tastes his semen on her tongue. She probably murmurs some reply that hurries to her room. She can’t wait to get out of the clothes she’s wearing, take a shower, maybe two, brush her teeth several times. Try to get the smell and taste of him and the memory of what happened off her body. But she can’t tell anyone what has happened to her. Not her parents. Not the Head Pastor at her church. Not her girlfriends, Not even her diary. She must carry that horrible memory in her heart and mind forever.

    Now what does he do? Goes home, maybe throws out his pair of semen stained shorts. Prays again for forgiveness and forgets entirely about the young girl who trusted him and whom he has just violated. He does NOT take personal responsibility for what he has done, He doesn’t tell the Head Pastor. He doesn’t want to lose his job or be arrested for sexual assault of a minor. He doesn’t beg forgiveness from the girl or her parents. He pretends it didn’t happen. But what about the young girl? She still has to go to church. How can she tell her parents that she doesn’t want to go anymore? She has to see him at church services and events. She has to smile and be pleasant to him in the presence of others because she can’t tell them what he did to her. He pretends that what he did never happened. She can’t tell anyone what he did to her. Who would believe her? He’s the Youth Pastor.

    Now, I ask you, how would you feel about this supposedly trusted and God-fearing man who is in a respected position of authority if he did this to your daughter or sister? Even if the incident occurred 20 years ago?

  31. Alexandra Heath says:

    Subsequent to posting my commentary, I did some online research into this story. First, let me say that I am not a member of this church nor am I a Christian. However, I am a woman with her own experience of sexual assault and the mother of three daughters who were sexually molested as children, so this matter touches very close to my heart. I wish to take issue with the reporting done in the ULC newsletter since it seems in hindsight designed to inflame people’s emotions rather than present a balanced view.

    In a news report Mr. Savage has stated “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 apologized and sought forgiveness from her, her parents, her discipleship group, the church staff, and the church leadership, who informed the congregation. In agreement with wise counsel, I took every step to respond in a biblical way,” Savage said in a statement about the incident that took place while he served at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church, now known as StoneBridge Church. “I resigned from ministry and moved back home to Memphis. I accepted full responsibility for my actions. 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 said.

    According to the woman who was assaulted, even though the incident was reported to the church leadership, they took no action against Mr. Savage and essentially tried to sweep it under the rug until she told her discipleship group at which point Mr. Savage was terminated from his position. In that case the church leaders are guilty of covering up what was then a crime and should be held accountable for their inaction. Apparently Mr. Savage DID take personal responsibility for his actions and did what he could within the confines of his religious belief to make amends. What he did was wrong there is no argument there. The woman must live with that memory and try to make peace with it in her heart, as do all women who have been so wronged. There is no way of changing the past.

    That Mr. Savage’s church membership has forgiven him and the fact that he continues to accept responsibility for what he did should be given the credence and respect it deserves. I dare say that if we were all held to account for things we did or said many years in the past, even though we have tried to the best of our ability to make amends, none of us would “escape whipping” as Shakespeare so eloquently said.

    Shame on you ULC for such a slanted and biased account! If I did not take the initiative on my own to find out more, I would still think ill of Mr. Savage as undoubtedly many of the readers of this newsletter account still do.

Leave a Comment