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Anti-Gay Pastor Acknowledges 'Sexual Incident' with High School Student in the 90s, Gets Standing Ovation

Wednesday Jan 10, 2018

A pastor from Tennessee, who says being gay is a sin, admitted to a "sexual incident" with a teen high school student in the 90s, the Associated Press reports.

Jules Woodson came forward last week and alleged Andy Savage, a pastor at the Memphis megachurch Highpoint, sexually assaulted her when she was a 17-year-old high school senior in Texas in 1998. News of the allegations sparked Christian publisher Bethan House to cancel the publication of Savage's book "The Ridiculously Good Marriage."

Savage made a statement on the website for the Highpoint Church, acknowledging he was involved in a "sexual incident" with a female high school student while he was on a church staff in Texas.

Woodson's allegations came in a blog post, which can be read in full by clicking here.

But Savage received a standing ovation during a church service Sunday, after admitting to the "sexual incident," according to a report from The New York Times. He did not tell the congregation what happened in 1998 but said he had sinned, taken responsibility for it and never hid it from church leaders. He added that before Woodson came forward with her story that he believed the alleged incident was "dealt with in Texas."

"Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules," Savage, 42, said during the service, which was streamed live online. "Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions 20 years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness and healing."

After addressing churchgoers, the crowd applauded Savage for about 20 seconds. Highpoint's lead pastor Chris Conlee then said he supports Savage, who he said was one of the people "hurt by the ripple effect of the consequences of that sin."

Woodson spoke to The Times in an interview, calling the video "disgusting." She said the alleged incident was not "dealt with" because it was never reported to law enforcement. She added she reported the episode this week and spoke with a detective in the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department.

"I just hope that by me coming forward that I would give courage to one other person," Woodson told The Times. "It doesn't matter if I was his only victim. What matters is that this was a big problem and continues to go on."

Savage is against homosexuality, pornography, divorce and "sexual atheism," having taking issue with these subjects in his video series "Sex Nation." Highpoint Church also has Savage's views on homosexuality posted on its website.

Watch Savage's recent speech to his congregation below, along with his "Sex Nation" video on homosexuality.


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