A pastor of a megachurch in Memphis, Tennessee, has been accused by a woman of a sexual assault incident which happened 20 years ago when he was still working as part of another church's staff in Texas.
In a blog entry, the woman alleged that Highpoint Church pastor Andy Savage sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old. She claimed she had told the leaders of the Texas church about what happened and that the incident was never reported to the police. However, she recently filed a report with authorities about the incident, Fox 13 Memphis relayed.
Pastor Savage, on the other hand, issued a statement that said the leaders at Highpoint Church know about what happened because it was something he disclosed to them before he was hired. Lead pastor Chris Conlee confirmed this and added that the megachurch was fully committed to the embattled pastor and his family.
On Jan. 7, Pastor Savage faced the congregation at Highpoint Church and admitted that a "sexual incident" had happened in 1998 with a woman named Jules Woodson, but did not give the details of the story. He confessed that he had sinned and said he had already taken responsibility for what he did, The New York Times reported.
Savage, who is now 42, said the incident had already been "dealt with in Texas." He apologized to Woodson for what he did two decades ago, and the congregation met him with a standing ovation after his statement.
"Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules," said Savage on Sunday. "Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions 20 years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness and healing."
However, Woodson tearfully said in a phone interview on Jan. 8 that Savage's statement was "disgusting." She said the incident still had not been settled because it had not been reported to the police, but she is hoping that her coming forward would encourage other victims to also share their stories.
As of now, it is not clear if Savage's case may still be investigated or not. Based on the law on sexual assault crimes in Texas, the statute of limitations of the case would already have become void.