A Memphis mega-church “teaching pastor” has admitted to sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl who was a member of his youth ministry. Andy Savage, of Highpoint Church, released a response to the accusations on the official website of Highpoint Church. Savage stated that he “had a sexual incident with a female high school senior,” according to Fox 13. As of Saturday evening, Savage made his Twitter account private.
“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.”
The incident happened in 1998 when Savage was a college student and a staff member at a church in Texas. The woman recounted the events and said that Savage offered her a ride one night after a meeting. However, he drove past the exit that leads to her home and instead drove down a secluded dirt road, she wrote on the blog called Watch Keep. The woman questioned where they were going and he just promised her a “surprise.”
“I remember feeling special and excited… I assumed we were going to get ice cream.”
The woman then recalled the moment that Savage asked her to perform oral sex on him.
“I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me.”
The woman added that Andy asked her to unbutton her blouse and that he proceeded to touch her breasts.
According to the woman’s account, the incident lasted for a total of five minutes.
The victim alleged after Savage made his request, he then got out of the car and hurried over to the passenger’s side, knelt down in front of her and exclaimed, “Oh my God. What have I done?”
This statement coincides with Savage’s confession in which he said that he immediately apologized and asked for forgiveness from the 17-year-old victim.
After the encounter, Andy Savage said that he resigned from the ministry in Texas and moved back home to Tennessee.
“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.”
The woman then claimed that she was told to keep the encounter a secret. She then said that Andy Savage got back into the car and finally drove her home.
After detailing the night’s events, the woman said that she felt manipulated and used. She claimed she took her accusations to the church’s leaders, however, the authorities were never called.
The victim then said that she proceeded to approach the church’s associate pastor, a man, to discuss what had happened. However, the associate pastor asked, “So you’re telling me you participated?”
She wrote that she was stunned and felt sudden guilt by the pastor’s question about her participation in the encounter.
“I didn’t say that I screamed no, jumped out of the car and ran into the dark forest because I hadn’t. I told him that Andy had asked me to perform oral sex and unbutton my shirt and I did.”
She then added that she felt the sexual assault was somehow her fault because she didn’t stop him.
The victim said that the church’s leadership made an attempt to sweep the encounter under the rug. However, she said that she worked up enough courage to tell more people, which eventually prompted Savage to leave the church due to a “poor decision” he had made.
No details of the incident were ever revealed to the church’s congregation.
“No one could imagine Andy doing anything bad or immoral, much less illegal, and so, it somehow became my fault that Andy was leaving.”
Savage responded to the woman’s post with a statement admitting to the action. He wrote that he “apologized and sought forgiveness from her, her parents, her discipleship group, the church staff, and the church leadership.”
Savage assured that he has never had another encounter similar to the one the victim described in her blog post.
“There has never been another situation remotely similar in my life before or after that occurrence… This incident was dealt with in Texas 20 years ago.”
The lead pastor of Highpoint Church added an addendum to Savage’s statement. Conlee confirmed that leadership within the church was well aware of the incident.
“I can assure you that I have total confidence in the redemptive process Andy went through… I have watched Andy strive to live a godly life and proactively share what he has learned to help others.”
Andy Savage’s page within Highpoint Church website states that he is now married and a father of five sons.