Highpoint Church releases update on sex abuse investigation involving Pastor Andy Savage

(YouTube/Highpoint Church)Pastor Andy Savage appears in a screen capture of a video from Highpoint Memphis Church.

Highpoint Church has announced on its website on Sunday that the sex abuse investigation involving Pastor Andy Savage is "wrapping up" and further updates would be released "as the situation requires."

"The investigation is wrapping up and the initial findings give us assurance that we can begin the long process of moving forward as a church," church officials said in a statement, as reported by WREG.

"Just as the culture around us is waking up to the suffering expressed by the courageous voices of the #metoo movement, we are taking very seriously our commitment to fully understand how our church should minister to the needs of the people we impact," it continued.

The statement noted that Savage remains on leave from his ministry at the church. A separate investigation regarding the church's practices for protecting children will be launched after the investigation on Savage is complete, according to a church administrator.

Highpoint Church drew national headlines in January when the congregation broke into 25 seconds of applause after Savage confessed to a "sexual incident" with a teenager named Jules Woodson in 1998 and asked for forgiveness. Savage, who was 22-years-old at the time, was serving as a youth minister at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church outside of Houston, Texas.

He had recounted the incident as a consensual encounter and said that it happened before he was engaged to his wife, Amanda. The pastor claimed that the incident had been "dealt with in Texas 20 years ago" but it had been "presented to a wider audience" back in January.

Two days before Savage confessed to the congregation, Woodson had written about the sexual assault in a blog post, saying Savage drove her to a secluded area and sexually assaulted her when she was a 17-year-old high school senior.

"There are triggers that take me back to that night, there are nightmares that haunt my dreams," Woodson recounted in her blog.

Woodson had filed a report with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in January, but the sheriff's office stated that it was unable to investigate the incident because the statute of limitations had already passed.

Shortly after the confession, Savage has been placed on leave from his role as teaching pastor and he has since been pictured on the church website as a staff member, without the title of teaching pastor.

Chris Conlee, the church's lead pastor, announced at the time that an independent, third-party organization had been commissioned to conduct an audit of the church processes and Savage's ministry. The lead pastor said at the time that the church will continue to support Savage and his family when the audit is finished.

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