MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A local pastor accused of sexually assaulting a teenager is taking a leave of absence.
Highpoint Church associate pastor Andy Savage was on the “Ben Ferguson Radio Show” Thursday evening and called what happened consensual.
Savage apologized for what happened, but this is the first time he’s characterized the encounter.
He says what he did was wrong, but not illegal and claims accuser Jules Woodson isn’t telling the whole truth.
As WREG reported, the incident happened 20 years ago but resurfaced last week when Woodson wrote about it in a blog.
It was 1998 when Savage, a then college student, was a youth pastor at a Texas church.
Woodson was 17-years-old at the time and attended the church.
She says savage was driving her home when he turned a dirt road and sexually assaulted her, but Savage says he never forced her to do anything.
“It was a very mutual, spontaneous, physical moment. Our hormones were obviously very much in that moment, and she performed oral sex,” Savage said in the radio interview.
Both Savage and Woodson told church leaders what happened, but no one called police.
Savage resigned and moved to Memphis.
No charges will be filed in this case, since the statute of limitations has passed.
It should also be noted that many of Savage’s parishioners here in Memphis still support him.
Radio host Ben Ferguson has offered Woodson a chance to come on the show and tell her side of the story.
Highpoint Church released a statement saying, “Please know that we support Andy as a leader of our church, but we also understand this has been a difficult season not only for Andy and his family, but for our congregation as well. We want to maintain trust in both Andy and our church leadership that we are not only doing things right, but we are doing right things. To that end, we are engaging a qualified, independent, third party organization to do a full audit of our church processes and Andy’s ministry.”
“Further, it has been mutually agreed upon that Andy will take a leave of absence effective immediately. While this audit is being completed, we will continue to support Andy and his family. Please continue to pray for all involved.”