Memphis pastor gets standing ovation after acknowledging 'sexual incident' with teen

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Savage was a youth minister for Parkway Baptist at the time and a college student, while Woodson was a high school senior.

Andy Savage, co-founder of Highpoint Church Memphis, confessed January 7 to a "sexual incident" involving a member of the youth group he led while on staff at a church in Texas more than 20 years ago.

After Woodson's letter went public, Pastor Savage was forced to address the incident, and rather than simply admitting to his crime, he tried to minimize it by calling it a "sexual incident".

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.

"Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules", Mr Savage said in a live streamed service.

In his Sunday mea culpa, Savage did not tell the congregation what transpired 'some 20 years ago, ' but said he had sinned, taken responsibility 'for it' and never kept it a secret from church leaders, the New York Times reported.

Savage, the co-founder of Highpoint Church, spoke about the incident to his church congregation on January 7 with the aid of a written account that he prepared.

But in a shocking twist, Woodson admitted to the "sexual incident" to his congregation on Sunday, and wes greeted with a standing ovation.

Highpoint Church Administrative Pastor Jim Pritchard verified the statements from Savage and the church, as well as the video.

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Opposition to Memphis Pastor Andy Savage continued to mount Wednesday, with a petition drive calling for his firing or resignation building momentum and a national support group for sexual abuse victims speaking out against him. I remember feeling special and excited, as in my mind, he obviously wanted to spend more time with me before taking me home.

A Memphis woman says she is devastated after a megachurch pastor who molested her as a teen was applauded by his congregation for apologizing for the "incident". He resigned from the Woodlands Church and moved to Memphis where he co-founded the Highpoint Church.

"This information is not new to me or to our leadership", Conlee wrote.

The blog post detailing the victim's account further reveals that she had sent Savage a sharply worded email on December 1 with the subject line: 'Do you remember?' "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".

Woodson said she was inspired by the widely publicised #MeToo movement, which came about in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein (and wider Hollywood) scandal, and after decades of silence felt the need to speak up. He said he told leaders at Highpoint about the incident before they hired him, and his wife knew about it before they married. They also confirmed Savage is still employed.

"When you are supporting Andy in that way you are also supporting Miss Woodson", Conlee said.

She said she remained silent until she saw a Twitter post by Savage commenting on the firing of NBC Today show host Matt Lauer for sexual misconduct.

"The church, however, never came out with an official statement addressing what had happened and/or what was being done about it", Woodson wrote.

"An apology does not change the fact that what happened to me was against the law and that it was wrong", Woodson said. In response to the allegation, Christian publisher Bethany House has dropped an upcoming book by Savage.

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