Ex-Tennessee megachurch pastor accused of sexually assaulting teen is reportedly starting new church

A Tennessee pastor who was accused of sexually assaulting a teen is reportedly starting a new church in Memphis.

Explore>> Read more trending news

Andy Savage resigned from Memphis' Highpoint Church last year after he admitted that he'd had "a sexual incident with a female high school senior" in 1998, when he was a youth pastor in Houston, WHBQ previously reported.

According to The Christian Post, Savage has taken up a new position at Grace Valley Christian Church in Memphis.

Official documents obtained by WHBQ, show Savage listed as the initial registered agent for the office of Grace Valley Church Inc.

Normally, WHBQ does not disclose the name of the victim in the instance of sexual assault, but the victim has granted us permission in this case.

His accuser, Jules Woodson, did not take the news lightly.

Woodson told WHBQ in a statement, "I find it to be gross injustice that he is making his way back into the pulpit by starting his own church."

She also posted on social media and that post is getting a lot of attraction and support.

It says, "Devastating news today, my abuser is back in the pulpit."

Some people who live in Memphis say Savage doesn’t deserve a second chance.

Alympia Lee, a Memphis resident, told WHBQ: "That's somebody you're supposed to be able to trust, your pastor, so I know people can change and you're supposed to forgive people, but I would be a little questionable about trusting him with dealing with people with emotional situations going on."

When WHBQ asked Robert Wilson, a Memphis resident, if Savage has the right to start over and begin a church, he responded: "I mean, he'll have the right, but they will probably have to monitor ... him as he's starting over."

When the allegations came to light, Savage released a response saying he “had a sexual incident with a female high school senior" 20 years ago when he was a college student on staff at a Texas church.

He said he apologized immediately and asked for forgiveness from the victim, who was only 17 at the time. Savage came forward after the woman shared her story on a blog, which is graphically detailed.

She claimed she took her accusations to the church's leaders, but police were never called. According to the blog, she filed a report with law enforcement, saying what happened to her was sexual assault.

Savage, who helped found Highpoint Church, said in his statement that he informed current church leaders of the incident before he was hired.

Woodson's full statement to WHBQ was as follows:

"Andy Savage sexually assaulted me when I was 17 and he was my ordained youth pastor. He admits to sexually assaulting me. He admits that it was abuse of power. Less than two years after this abuse was exposed, and he resigned from Highpoint Church, he has filed non-profit paperwork to plant a new church “Grace Valley Church.” When Andy sexually abused me, two other pastors, Larry Cotton and Steve Bradley failed to oversee Andy’s repentance, and failed to teach Andy that he had forever disqualified himself as a pastor, according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 2 in the Bible. I have listened to Andy Savage’s speech to the potential members of “Grace Valley Church,” which was published online. Andy Savage is using manipulative approaches and what are considered “grooming” tactics to gain interest and support for his church. In his speech, Andy appeals to vulnerable, broken people and broken lives who are in need of the gospel; he asks for people to share their secrets with him and the church; Andy chuckles while saying “I got my hands on the wrong thing” referring to his past sexual abuse of me. While it is true that we are all sinners, that God’s grace is amazing and available to all of us – including Andy Savage – there is a difference between repentance and restoration to the body of Christ and restoration to being a pastor. A pastor who sexually assaults a minor in their care is who Jesus talks about in Luke 17. Morally, ethically, biblically, Andy Savage is not qualified to be a pastor. Because he has abused people when he was given a position of power, part of his repentance and restoration is to NOT be put into that position of power ever again. When a trusted pastor appeals to people to be vulnerable and to share secrets, that can be a gift to help repentance and grow a person’s faith. These are the things that Andy asked of me when I was a child to groom me for sexual abuse. He is using the same method to start Grace Valley Church. Twenty years ago, Larry Cotton and Steve Bradley supported Andy Savage. Andy Savage is not starting Grace Valley Church without the help and support of others. Andy Savage and his supporters are setting a precedent within the church that men who have preyed upon the flock can still belong on the pulpit. This is dangerous, this is wrong and I believe that Andy’s message of “cheap Grace” leads people astray from the truth of God’s Word."