A Memphis megachurch gave a standing ovation to a pastor after he admitted to sexually assaulting a teenage girl just days before he conducted a workshop promoting abstinence.
Andy Savage apologized Sunday to his congregation Highpoint Church, after news reports revealed the woman’s allegations against the pastor — who has admitted they’re true.
The woman said she was 17 years old and a high school senior when she met Savage, who was then in college and working as a staffer at a Texas Baptist church now known as StoneBridge.
She told the Wartbridge Watch website that Savage drove her 20 years ago to a remote area, where he forced her to give him oral sex, fondled her and then jumped out of the vehicle, fell to his knees and begged forgiveness.
The woman said the incident caused lasting psychological harm, and she has recently filed a police report about the incident.
“I took every step to respond in a biblical way,” Savage said, reading from a prepared statement. “I resigned from ministry and moved back home to Memphis. I accepted full responsibility for my actions. 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 and God’s kingdom.”
Savage told congregants he had never been involved in another similar situation, and he claimed to have notified his wife before asking her to marry him and lead pastor Chris Conlee before joining HighPoint.
“I was wrong and I accepted responsibility for my actions,” Savage said. “I was sorry then and remain sorry today.”
The pastor said he complied with the advice he was given by church leaders, but he now admits more could have been done to help the victim.
“I am truly sorry more was not done,” Savage said. “Until now, I did not know that there was unfinished business with (the victim), so I say today … I am truly sorry for my actions 20 years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward your forgiveness and healing.”
After reading the statement, congregants rose to their feet in applause that lasted for nearly 30 seconds, and the lead pastor placed his arm around Savage’s shoulder.
“What Andy and I both know is that the support that you gave is also for (the victim),” Conlee said.
WATCH: New Zealand prime minister unfazed as quake hits during an interview
A moderate 5.6-magnitude earthquake rattled New Zealand's North Island early Monday but failed to crack Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's trademark composure as she conducted a live television interview.
The quake struck just off the coast before 8:00 am local time (2000 Sunday GMT) at a depth of about 52 kilometres (32 miles) near Levin, about 90 kilometres north of Wellington, the US Geological Survey said.
St John Ambulance and New Zealand Police both said there were no initial reports of injuries or damage. There was no tsunami warning.
But there was sustained shaking in Wellington, where Ardern was being interviewed on breakfast television from parliament's Beehive building, which is designed to absorb seismic forces by swaying slightly on its foundations.
US farmers are starting to worry as crop prices dip during COVID-19 crisis: ‘It’s kind of glum’
Dave Burrier steered his tractor through a field, following a GPS map as he tried to plant as much corn as possible amid the yellow and green rye covering the ground.
Striving to get a massive yield out of his crops in rural Maryland is how Burrier hopes to make it through yet another uncertain year, beset by market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed trade tensions between the United States and China.
"We've had so much price erosion that we're basically at below the cost of production. We've got to figure out how to manage and turn a profit," Burrier told AFP.
‘It’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months’: Trump makes excuses for golfing during coronavirus pandemic
President Donald Trump was blasted on Sunday for playing golf during the coronavirus pandemic, a dramatic economic recession and after proclaiming churches "essential."
Instead of joining his voters sitting in the pews, Trump went for the links, which drew criticisms for the hypocrisy.
"Sleepy Joe’s representatives have just put out an ad saying that I went to play golf (exercise) today. They think I should stay in the White House at all times. What they didn’t say is that it’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months, that Biden was constantly vacationing, relaxing & making shady deals with other countries, & that Barack was always playing golf, doing much of his traveling in a fume spewing 747 to play golf in Hawaii - Once even teeing off immediately after announcing the gruesome death of a great young man by ISIS!" tweeted Trump.