In a statement to CNN Thursday night, Highpoint Church's lead pastor Chris Conlee announced the leave of absence of 42-year-old Andy Savage. Highpoint is also procuring the services of a "qualified, independent, third-party organization" to investigate Savage's ministry and the church itself.
"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," Conlee said. "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."
In related news, Conlee has been removed as a speaker from the upcoming Downline Ministries Summit in Memphis. "We are praying for healing for [Ms. Jules Woodson], and for truth and justice for everyone involved," Downline said in a statement.
Savage, a certified shitbag, was met with applause when he said this in front of the congregation last Sunday:
As a college student on staff at a church in Texas more than 20 years ago, I regretfully had a sexual incident with a female high school senior in the church.
In a blog post earlier this month, Woodson detailed the 1998 incident, which she said occurred in Texas when she was 17:
We reached a dead end and he turned the truck around before putting it in park. We were stopped, and he turned the headlights off. Suddenly, Andy unzipped his jeans and pulled out his penis. He asked me to suck it. I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me. He then asked me to unbutton my shirt. I did. He started touching me over my bra and then lifted my bra up and began touching my breasts. After what I believe to have been about 5 minutes of this going on, he suddenly stopped, got out of the truck and ran around the back and to my side before falling to his knees. I quickly buttoned my shirt back up and got out of the truck. Now I was terrified and ashamed. I remember him pleading, while he was on his knees with his hands up on his head, ‘Oh my god, oh my god. What have I done? Oh my god, I'm so sorry. You can't tell anyone Jules, please. You have to take this to the grave with you.’
Savage's applause-assisted apology, Woodson said Thursday, was "disgusting."