By Victor Ochieng
Teaching Pastor Andy Savage has admitted to s*xually assaulting a high school senior some 20 years ago. At the time, the pastor was a college student and a staffer at a Texas Baptist church, now called StoneBridge. Unlike many other pastors who deny any wrongdoing, the pastor admitted this on his social media pages.
The Highpoint Church leader said in his statement that he felt remorseful for what he’d done and apologized immediately and requested the victim to forgive him.
“I apologized and sought forgiveness from her, her parents, her discipleship group, the church staff, and the church leadership, who informed the congregation,” he said on the church website. “In agreement with wise counsel, I took every step to respond in a biblical way.”
Savage opened up about the incident after the woman in question shared graphic details about the incident with The Wartburg Watch, a website launched by two Christian women who followed their faith, but detected “disturbing trends within Christendom.”
“He turned onto a dirt road and continued to drive. There were trees all around. I could not see the main road anymore, from which he turned,” Jules Woodson said of her experience. “I asked what was back here. He told me they were building a church. I thought, maybe that’s what this was about, maybe he has some secret to tell me, like perhaps he was moving to another church.”
The two continued with their drive until they hit a dead end, where Savage turned the truck and parked.
“He turned the headlights off. Suddenly, Andy unzipped his jeans and pulled out his penis. He asked me to suck it,” she continued. “I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me. He then asked me to unbutton my shirt. I did. He started touching me over my bra and then lifted my bra up and began touching my breasts.”
After some five minutes in the act, Savage jumped out of the truck and went round to her side of the truck, went down on his knees and pleaded with her for forgiveness. She confessed the whole experience left her feeling “terrified and ashamed” even as Savage continued to plead with her.
“Oh my God, oh my God. What have I done? Oh my God, I’m so sorry. You can’t tell anyone Jules, please. You have to take this to the grave with you,” she remembered him telling her.
She got angry about it and just promised not to tell on him so that he could stop pleading. The two of them got back into the truck and drove home.
In the aftermath, she was feeling serious guilt and anxiety that also affected her concentration in school. This pushed her to talk about the incident. “As embarrassing as it would be for me to tell all the ‘dirty’ details of this horrible secret, I had no other choice. What happened to me was not right nor had it been my fault. I had to report this. Little did I know, the very people I was about to entrust to protect me and help me would not only victimize me all over again but would also engage in a cover-up to protect my abuser and the image of the church.”
The first person she shared her experience with was her Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church’s Associate Pastor Larry Cotton, who asked her as if shocked, “So you’re telling me you participated?” This just worked to inject in her a “wave of shame.”
The details of the incident were shared with Senior Pastor Steve Bradley.
To date, the pastors haven’t reported the matter anywhere and more or less just worked to cover up the whole thing.