Sexual Misconduct

Audience stands and applauds after megachurch pastor admits sexually assaulting teen

What does it take to get evangelicals outraged about sexual assault?

This past Sunday, a pastor at a megachurch in Memphis walked on stage and admitted to a “sexual incident” with a 17-year-old girl when he was a youth pastor at a Texas church 20 years ago. After his confession, the church audience honored him with a standing ovation.

Pastor Andy Savage‘s admission came after a blog post by the victim gained attention.

Jules Woodson said Savage offered her a ride home from church back in 1998 when she was a high school senior. Instead, he drove down a secluded dirt road and asked Woodson to perform oral sex and unbutton her shirt so he could touch her breast.

“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 in God’s kingdom,” Savage said, reading from a statement he saved on his phone.

When his speech was over, he was embraced by the church’s lead pastor Chris Conlee as the audience stood applauded him.

After watching the video, Woodson told The New York Times that she was disgusted. “It doesn’t matter if I was his only victim. What matters is that this was a big problem and continues to go on,” she said.

According to the Times, Savage didn’t tell the congregation the details of the incident, “but he said that he had sinned, taken responsibility for it and never kept it a secret from church leaders,” thinking the incident had already been dealt with.

“Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules,” Savage said in his prepared speech. “Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions 20 years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness and healing.”

According to the Friendly Atheist‘s David McAfee, Savage hasn’t come anywhere close to accepting responsibility for what he’s done.

Savage said the words “I am deeply sorry,” but his apology was filled with excuses, justifications, and attempts to side-step the real issue. He never stated any specifics and talked about how he thought he had no “unfinished business” with his victim. He even said he took “responsibility” for his actions, despite the fact that he never turned himself in to any real authorities. Telling your church leaders isn’t the same thing.

Watch video of Savage’s speech below:

Featured image via screen grab

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