A US pastor who preaches against homosexuality and endorses anti-gay conversion therapy has admitted to sexually abusing a member of the church when she was 17 years old.
Jules Woodson last week accused pastor Andy Savage of Highpoint Church of making sexual advances towards her in 1998, according to Pink News.
“I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it,” wrote Woodson.
“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.”
She said that following the incident Savage told her not to tell anyone about it.
“I couldn’t concentrate at school,” she wrote.
“I couldn’t think about anything else… The fear, shame, anger and hurt consumed me.”
Woodson said that after reporting the abuse to church leaders, she was told to say silent and that it would be investigated internally.
“Little did I know, the very people I was about to entrust to protect me and help me would not only victimise me all over again but would also engage in a cover up to protect my abuser and the image of the church,” she wrote.
The pastor this Sunday admitted to the abuse to his congregation—to a standing ovation.
“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 said.
He said that he was taking “full responsibility” for the incident.
A statement by Savage on the Highpoint Church website said it had been “dealt with”.
Woodson responded to Savage’s statements, calling the standing ovation by the church “disgusting”.
Savage is vocally opposed to homosexuality and has spoken in support of anti-gay conversion therapy.