When a 17-year-old Jules Woodson told members of her church that a youth minister forced her to perform oral sex, she says leaders gave him a friendly "going away reception." Twenty years later, he'd also get a standing ovation, reports the Washington Post. Forced to address Woodson's account of the 1998 incident in Texas, repeated as part of the #MeToo campaign in recent months, Andy Savage appeared Sunday in front of worshippers at the evangelical Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tenn., where he's now a pastor. Staying vague, the 42-year-old referred to the incident in his early 20s as a sin for which he resigned and is "deeply sorry" and "sorry more was not done." He was treated to a 20-second standing ovation while Woodson, watching online, was left in tears, per the New York Times.
"His apology isn't enough because … he's lying about how he handled it," Woodson tells WMC, responding to a prior statement in which Savage said he'd "sought forgiveness" from Woodson, her parents, and leaders at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church near Houston. In reality, Woodson says Savage didn't speak to her after he drove her to a secluded area, fondled her breasts, forced her to perform oral sex, then begged for forgiveness. Woodson adds church officials failed to contact police while Savage told her mother they'd only kissed, per the Times. There was "this big coverup," she tells WMC, but "I want other victims of sexual abuse, especially within the church … to know that they have a voice," she says. In response to the allegation, Christian publisher Bethany House has dropped an upcoming book by Savage. (Read more sexual assault stories.)